Covid lockdowns had ‘catastrophic effect’ on UK’s social fabric, report claims | Poverty #Covid #lockdowns #catastrophic #effect #UKs #social #fabric #report #claims #Poverty

Covid lockdowns had a “catastrophic effect” on the UK’s social fabric and the most disadvantaged are no better off now than at the time of the financial crash, a new report claims.

The country is in danger of sliding back into the divisions of the Victorian era, marked by a widening gap between the mainstream and the poorest in society, according to an inquiry by the centre-right thinktank the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ).

About 13.4 million people lead lives affected by family fragility, stagnant wages, poor housing, chronic ill health and crime, the centre says.

The CSJ’s Social Justice Commission’s report, Two Nations: the State of Poverty in the UK, argues that the most disadvantaged in Britain are no better off than 15 years ago. It also says that the pandemic lockdowns had a “catastrophic effect” on the nation’s social fabric, especially for the least well-off, where the gap between the so-called “haves” and “have nots” was blown wide open.

The report says: “During lockdown calls to a domestic abuse helpline rose 700%; mental ill health in young people went from one in nine to one in six and nearly a quarter among the oldest children; severe absence from school jumped 134%; 1.2 million more people went on working-age benefits, 86% more people sought help for addictions; prisoners were locked up for 22.5 hours a day.

“There is a growing gap between those who can get by and those stuck at the bottom.”

Six in 10 people say that their area has a good quality of life, but this drops to less than two in five of the most deprived.

Twenty years ago, just one in nine children were assessed as having a clinically recognisable mental health problem. That figure is now one in five, rising to nearly one in four for those aged 17-19.

If trends continue, the report argues that by 2030 more than one in four five- to 15-year-olds, which may be as many as 2.3 million children, could have a mental disorder.

Andy Cook, the chief executive of the Centre for Social Justice, said: “This report makes for deeply uncomfortable reading.

“Lockdown policy poured petrol on the fire that had already been there in the most disadvantaged people’s lives, and so far no one has offered a plan to match the scale of the issues.

“What this report shows is that we need far more than discussions on finance redistribution, but a strategy to go after the root causes of poverty, education, work, debt, addiction and family.”

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The report includes a poll of 6,000 people conducted by JL Partners, 3,000 drawn from the general public and 3,000 on the lowest income.

The report also heard from more than 350 small charities, social enterprises and policy experts, and the commission travelled to three nations of the UK and to more than 20 towns and cities.

The most disadvantaged worry twice as much as the mainstream about the quality of their housing and communities being “torn apart” by addiction, the CSJ says.

The report adds: “Although overall crime rates are down, violent crime remains high, and still 6% of families account for half of all convictions. Outstanding cases for the crown courts continue to rise, eroding the public’s trust that justice will be done and emboldening criminals.

“Only 8% of victims are confident they would receive justice as a result of reporting a crime. Only 17% of the most disadvantaged who rent in social housing rate their quality of life at least eight out of 10, compared with 52% of those who own a property.”

#Covid #lockdowns #catastrophic #effect #UKs #social #fabric #report #claims #Poverty

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