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Half of “ideal” families are now below poverty line, professor says

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h698 (Published 05 February 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h698
  1. Matthew Limb
  1. 1London

A leading expert in health inequalities has condemned the scale of poverty among families in England.

Michael Marmot, director of the Institute of Health Equity at University College London, said that in 2011-12 there were more people in poverty in households where at least one adult was working than in workless households. Meanwhile net disposable income per person had not recovered to its 2008 level.

He said, “Take the Daily Mail model family—one adult working outside the home for pay, one adult not working for pay staying home, and two children—51% are in poverty. Got that? The perfect, ideal family: 51% are below the poverty line.”

He said that people on low pay were “not skivers or scroungers or feckless or irresponsible or the worthless poor,” while very few people could be said to be “living the life of Riley” on welfare benefits. “They’re not paid enough to have a life that people in Britain think that everyone in Britain should …

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