Britain’s expanding ‘underclass’

Government changes to criteria for classifying “troubled families” will this week see 380,000 more enter the category. Who are they and how can they be helped? Simon Wilson reports.

What is an ‘underclass’?

It’s that entrenched section of society that is worse off than the working-class, and appears to have no ability or will to escape its lot. The term is controversial, and is used more by journalists than by academics or policy-makers.

Some find the term offensive, arguing that it demonises the urban poor and lumps together a complex range of social problems. On [...]

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