Living in poverty

In this section, a range of videos are presented giving first-hand account of what it is like to live in poverty in the UK. 

Breadline Britain: 1983 to 2013 presents six short videos on how poverty has changed - or not - over the last thirty years. Drawing on the 1983 and 1991 ITV Breadline Britain series, the PSE 2011-12 case study films and the 2013 ITV Tonight Breadline Britain episode, these videos provide a unique insight into the changes and continuities of those in poverty over this period. While Britain is a much wealthier country than thirty years ago, people today face the same daily struggle just to get by as their counterparts did in the 1990s and the 1980s. The PSE team would like to thank ITV for their generous permission to use extracts from these Breadline Britain series.

Life Stories from austere times is based on the PSE UK qualitative research into ‘Understanding experiences of low income during recession’ and provides thematic extracts from the videos recorded with people on low incomes during 2012/13. Based on sixty-two video testimonies collected during 2012-2013 in Birmingham, Glasgow and Gloucestershire, the videos show the feelings of pressure, insecurity and marginalisation faced by those on low incomes.

For Households in poverty, the PSE team filmed with five families from across the UK: in London, north-east England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Between them, these households represent each of the following key groups vulnerable to poverty:

  • single parents on benefits
  • the young unemployed
  • low-paid workers supporting a family
  • adults who are disabled
  • single pensioners.

Through the different generations of household members talking openly about their experiences and circumstances, the five case studies explore the deep impact that poverty has on people's lives and opportunities.

Featured case studies

Jennie's story

Jennie is 39 and unemployed. She lives with her three sons, all of whom have disabilities, in Redbridge, outer London. The family has lived in temporary accommodation for the last 12 years.

Marc's Story

Marc is 19 and lives in Redcar in north-east England, a town where there are twelve times as many people claiming job seeker’s allowance as there are job vacancies.

The Johnsons story

Renée is 40 and works long hours for low pay to try to provide for her four children, aged 3 to 14, and her 80-year-old mother.