Public attitudes towards poverty

Suzanne Hall, Katrina Leary and Helen Greevy

How attitudes to poverty have changed since the 2008 financial crash.

This report explores public attitudes to poverty and how they have changed since 2008. It also looks at how the public thinks poverty should be defined, what causes it and what kinds of policies might be effective in tackling poverty in the UK. Some of the main findings are:

  • harder views towards poverty remain, but the economic circumstances of recent years have encouraged some to reconsider both who might be affected by poverty and its causes;
  • participants considered poverty to be about more than just income. They also questioned whether the term ‘poverty’ was appropriate in the UK context;
  • JRF’s needs-based definition was viewed positively, although participants still felt that this did not fully encapsulate a life in poverty;
  • the idea of the ‘undeserving poor’ created tension. However, people’s deeper attitudes were that personal choices are rarely the root cause of poverty.


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