While the COVID-19 lockdown measures were implemented to prevent the spread of the virus and decrease the number of individuals afflicted, they also wreaked havoc on the countries’ economic aspects and took a heavy toll on the less fortunate and more vulnerable segments of society.
Unfortunately, the UK is no exception.
A new study by the Centre for Social Justice, entitled ‘Two Nations: The State Of Poverty In The UK’, revealed that the pandemic has had a disproportionate effect on the UK’s most deprived communities, thus broadening the gap between the wealthy and the poor and damaging its social fabric.
The situation is described in the study as being at risk of reverting back to the “two nations of the Victorian era” and added that the poor are no better off today than they were 15 years ago when the country grappled with a financial crisis.
According to the center, roughly 13.4 million people are living lives plagued by mental health illness, stagnating income, crime, substandard housing, and family instability.
Mental health and Lockdown Measures
Particularly concerning among these was the prevalent mental health crisis. Low-income households were found to be heavily struck by the pandemic, not just monetarily but also psychologically, with the younger generation suffering the most.
The report stated that during the lockdown, calls made to the domestic abuse helpline rose to an alarming 700%. The statistic of mental illness among young people also rose from 1 in 9 to 1 in 5, and it increased to nearly 1 in 4 for those aged 17–19.
The study also noted an extraordinary spike in school absence rates (134%), a large increase in individuals seeking addiction treatment (86%), and convicts spending more hours in confinement (22.5 hours per day).
In terms of perceived quality of life, the survey stated that six out of ten people thought their neighborhood provided a decent quality of life; however, this falls to less than two out of five among the most destitute.
Andy Cook, Centre for Social Justice’s Chief Executive, stated no one had so far come forward with a plan to address the problems. He also asserted that what the country needed right now was a strategy to address the root causes of poverty.
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