Poverty costs UK £78m per year, report finds

A report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found the effects of poverty to have cost the UK an average of £78 billion per year, with the NHS bearing the brunt of the costs.

The report found that those in poverty were most likely to suffer ill health, with £29 billion being spent on treating health conditions associated with poverty.

The research outlined other costs including: £10 billion on schools providing initiatives such as free school meals and pupil premium for poorer students; £9 billion on the police and criminal justice systems dealing with the higher incidence of crime in more deprived areas; £7.5 billion on children's services and early years provision, such as free childcare for deprived two-year-olds; £4.6 billion on adult social care; and £4 billion on housing.

Professor Donald Hirsch from Loughborough University, co-author of the report, said: "The experience of poverty makes it more likely that you'll suffer ill health or that you'll grow up with poor employment prospects and rely more on the state for your income.

"The very large amounts we spend on the NHS and on benefits means that making a section of the population more likely to need them is extremely costly to the Treasury."

Julia Unwin, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: "Poverty wastes people's potential, depriving our society of the skills and talents of those who have valuable contributions to make. This drags down the productivity of our economy, hinders economic growth, and reduces tax revenue."