Britain's poor are worse off than their neighbours and suffering the same sort of living standards seen in the ex-Soviet bloc countries, stark new analysis has found.
The poorest fifth of Britain's population are the poorest in Western Europe, being significantly worse off than those in France and Germany, according to the High Pay Centre think-tank, which studied data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
The poorest fifth of UK households have an average income of just $9,530, much lower than those in Germany ($13,381), France ($12,653), Denmark ($12, 183) or the Netherlands ($11,274).
Meanwhile, the poorest Britons are seeing similar living standards to those in former Eastern bloc nations, despite the fact that average incomes in the UK ($25,828) are similar to those in Denmark ($25,172) and the Netherlands ($25,697).
The UK's average income is inflated by the top 20% of households, at around $54,000, the third highest in the EU.
Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, told the Huffington Post UK: “The government sometimes claims that it the richest who have paid the price of the financial crash. But these figures show that their high ranking amongst the wealthy elites of Europe has been nicely maintained, despite years of austerity and spending cuts.
“Unsurprisingly the people that have suffered the most are those at the bottom of the income scale. The UK’s poorest families are now barely better off than those living in the former communist dictatorships like Slovenia and the Czech Republic. The government should hang its head in shame.”
High Pay Centre director Deborah Hargreaves said: "Most people think our living standards in the UK are similar to economies like France and Germany, but being poor in the UK is more like being poor in the former Soviet Bloc than in Western Europe."