Black families left £1,635 worse off in a decade amid ‘unconscionable’ increases in poverty

Black and minority ethnic people are 2.5 times more likely to live in poverty in the UK. (Getty Images)
Black and minority ethnic people are 2.5 times more likely to live in poverty in the UK. (Getty Images) (Tara Moore via Getty Images)

Black families have been left more than £1,600 worse off over the last decade, according to new analysis by the UK's leading race equality think tank.

A new report by the Runnymede Trust has found Black and minority ethnic people are falling "faster and further" below the poverty line compared to their white counterparts.

The organisation says changes to tax and social security over the last decade of been "highly regressive" and have had a disproportionately negative effect on people of colour.

While white families currently receive £454 less a year on average in cash benefits than they did a decade ago, for Black and minority ethnic families the figure is £806 less a year.

The number grows further for Black families, who are £1,635 worse off than they were a decade ago.

Read more: Cost of living: People of colour to be hit hardest by ‘unfathomable’ poverty

Other stark findings include data that shows Black and minority ethnic families are 2.5 times more likely to be in poverty compared to their white counterparts, and 52% of Black and minority ethnic households facing fuel poverty this winter versus 32% of white families.

The trust has called on the government to provide more targeted support for those on the lowest incomes, including the uprating of social security in line with rising inflation, as well as reintroducing and extending the £20 uplift to everyone claiming universal credit.

“The growing rates of poverty outlined in our briefing, in the world’s fifth largest economy, are simply unconscionable," said Dr Halima Begum, CEO of the Runnymede Trust.

"We talk about this cost-of-living crisis in universal terms. No one is immune from the consequences.

"However, what’s clear from this research is that some groups are less equal and more impacted than others, including our black and minority ethnic communities."

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2021/11/05: Shoppers are seen in Aldi supermarket. 
According to a research from Which? (A company that promotes informed consumer choice in the purchase of goods and services), Aldi has been named as the cheapest supermarket in the UK for the second month running, beating its rival Lidl. Which? found a basket of 23 items from Aldi cost £24.24 on average in October 2021, compared to £24.97 at Lidl. (Photo by Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
White families currently receive £454 less a year on average in cash benefits than they did a decade ago, for Black families the figure is £1,635. (Getty Images) (SOPA Images via Getty Images)

A spokesperson for the department for work and pensions told Yahoo News UK: “The government is committed to achieving fairness and equality of opportunity for all.

"The Inclusive Britain report sets out some of the ways we will look to build a fairer and more inclusive society for all, with actions across education, health, employment, criminal justice and family support.

“But we recognise people are struggling with rising prices in different ways, which is why we have put in place a range of measures to protect millions of the most vulnerable families, including £1,200 of direct payments and saving households an average of £1,000 a year through our new energy price guarantee."

It comes as the government faces fierce backlash from both outside and within its ranks over reports it is planning to scrap a commitment to increase benefits in line with inflation, which would amount to a real-terms cut.

Read more: UK households lose £2 in 'stealthy' freezes for every £1 in tax cuts

Poverty think tank the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said it would be "unconscionable" if the government went ahead with such a move.

"It is simply not right that people are going without the basics needed to keep clean," the charity said.

"With 3.1 million adults already affected by hygiene poverty in the UK, it’s unconscionable that many of their incomes would be squeezed even more by a failure to uprate benefits by inflation."

Senior Tory and former work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith told Sky News on Wednesday night the uplift must go ahead.

"Benefits need to go up in line with inflation as there are many things bearing down on those on the lowest level of income and the cost of living is actually higher for them," he said.

Watch: Cost-of-living crisis: Nurses leaving for better-paid jobs in shops because 'they can't afford to work for NHS'