People living in the UK are now more likely to be at risk of poverty or social exclusion than those in Poland, IBTimes UK can reveal.
The latest EU poverty statistics show that in 2015 the proportion of people in Britain either at risk of poverty, severely materially deprived or living in households with very low working hours became greater than that of people in Poland. It is the first time the UK has ranked below Poland on the index since Poland ascended to the EU in 2004. In 2005 the proportion of people at risk of of poverty or social exclusion in Poland was almost double that in Britain: 45:3% vs 24.8%. A decade later only 23.4% of Polish residents are marginalised, compared with 23.5% in Britain, according to the EU's statistical agency Eurostat.
The measure of poverty employed in the statistics is relative to a nation's median income and does not suggest that British residents are poorer than Poles. It may in fact be a better indication of income inequality (after welfare payments) within each country. Regardless, the dramatic reversal in the countries' rankings is remarkable in the wake of the Brexit vote, believed to have been largely motivated by resentment towards economic migrants from Poland and other parts Eastern Europe.
Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford said: "Economic conditions have improved considerably in Poland over the past ten years, and this is likely to be one reason why the number of newly arriving Polish migrants is lower than it was in the mid-2000s. That said, there is still a reasonably large gap between standards of living in the UK and Poland. By 2014, for example, Eurostat estimated that the average household's disposable income in the UK was 1.8 times higher than in Poland."