Income and Poverty

Foreign-born people and poverty in the UK

Commissioned by: Joseph Rowntree Foundation

  • Published 29th Jul 2016
  • Authors: Ceri Hughes, , Peter Kenway,
  • Category: Income and Poverty

Little is known about the experience of poverty among people who have moved to the United Kingdom (UK). This report seeks to address this gap, describing how poverty rates differ across a range of dimensions for people who live in the UK but who were born abroad. The research draws primarily on data from the Family Resources Survey. This is a large-scale, government-sponsored survey, which is used to derive the Households Below Average Income (HBAI) data series – the source of the government’s official estimates of poverty in the UK. The estimates given in this report are three-year averages of data collected between 2011/12 and 2013/14.

The research highlights that migrants to the UK are at a greater risk of poverty than those born in the UK. It also shows that this is not a short-lived problem. Most of the foreign-born population who are in poverty have lived in the UK for at least five years. Meanwhile, children born to foreign-born parents face a much higher poverty risk than those born to UK-born parents. There is therefore a need to push current thinking beyond a narrow focus on migration flows to consider how best to support those migrants who have lived in the UK for many years – and their children – to access the opportunities available to others in the UK.