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The UK’s most deprived use the least charities, new report reveals

12 July 2016

People living in the UK’s most deprived areas use fewer charities than those living in the most advantaged areas, but they are the more likely to view them as essential or very important to their lives.

Those in the most deprived areas are the most likely to have accessed counselling, housing or advice services provided by a charity or seek out information from a charity website, according to the latest research by the Charities Aid Foundation.

People living in areas where deprivation is lowest pay many more visits to charity-run stately homes and art galleries, participate more in community, youth or voluntary groups.

Across the UK there has been an increase in the use of charity services since 2014, with almost every household (98%) now reporting to have used a charity at some point, and five out of six (83%) having used a charity service in the last 12 months.

On average people had used about six charitable services in the past year.

The report, Charity Street II, also reveals how people trust charities more than any other group to speak up for the disadvantaged – trumping religious leaders, MPs, councillors, civil servants and think-tanks. People also believe they are best placed to speak to government on behalf of disadvantaged people (such as vulnerable adults and children, homeless people, unemployed jobseekers).

Young people are the most likely age group to have used a charity service in the last year, with nearly nine out of ten (88%) 18-24 year olds having done so compared to eight out of ten across all age groups. They are also twice as likely as average to use charities to receive counselling, mental health support and medical care or stay in a charity run hostel.

Across different household types, young families have seen the biggest increase in their use of charities since 2014. They are the most likely household type to have received a range of services including advice or information, medical care or attended a youth or voluntary group. This year, 88 per cent of young families said they have used a charitable service in the last year, up from 78 per cent two years ago.

The report found:

  • Nearly every household in the UK (98 %) has used a charity at some point – a 5 percentage point increase on 2014. The average UK household has used 6.07 charity services compared to 5.67 in 2014.
  • The most common ways households use charities are: buying an item from a charity shop (88% vs. 84% in 2014); visiting a charity run gallery, museum, garden or stately home (73% vs. 64% in 2014); getting advice or information from a charity website (51% vs. 45% in 2014).
  • Women are more likely than men to have used a charity in the last year (86% women vs 75% men) – broadly in line with two years ago (83% vs. 75% men).
  • Young families have seen the biggest increase in their use of charities since 2014. This year, 88 per cent said they have used a charitable service in the last year, up from 78 per cent two years ago. 18-24 year olds are the most likely age group to have used a charity service in the last year  (with 88%).
  • Households in the UK’s least deprived areas have used on average 6.24 charities and are more likely to use charities which provide education or entertainment. Those living in the most deprived areas have used less (on average 5.60) and are more likely to have accessed key services providing housing, care, advice and counselling.  Those in the most deprived areas (48 per cent) are more likely to rate their role as essential or very important in their lives and for their household than those in the least deprived areas (37 %).
  • Three-quarters (76%) most trust charities to speak up for the disadvantaged. The second most trusted group is religious leaders, but with only 5 per cent trusting them most. Fewer than one in twenty most trust councillors (4%), MPs (3%), businesses (1%), think tanks (1%) or civil servants (1%) to speak up for the disadvantaged.


The report also examined public awareness of charities. Despite use of charitable services being on the increase, nearly a quarter of households in the UK are unaware that the services they were using were run by charities.

Given a list of 16 services provided by charities, less than one in ten people were aware they were all provided by the voluntary sector.

Susan Pinkney, Head of Research at CAF, said:

“At the heart of our communities are people working to make life better for the most vulnerable among us. Our research today shows that charity is not something that happens outside our everyday lives, but is woven into our enjoyment and ability to participate fully in our communities and the world around us.

“More people today are reporting personal gains from charity, from the benefits of going to walk around a beautiful stately home, to dropping into a community centre for advice. These activities keep us in touch with our vibrant communities and connect us with each other in meaningful ways.

“Charity use is on the rise. Let’s use this fact to celebrate them, use them, work for them, volunteer with them, and donate to them. At a time when community and togetherness has been shaken, looking towards our charities in the community can be a great way to rebuild our confidence in each other.”

The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF)is one of Europe’s largest charitable foundations, providing advice, financial services and research to help people and companies give to causes they care about.


  1. The data in this report is based on the Charity Street 2016 survey which collected information about service use from adults aged 18 and over in the United Kingdom. The survey ran between 19th and 21st February 2016 as part of Populus’s online omnibus. 2,054 responses were collected in total and were weighted to be representative of the UK adult population.
  2. The data been analysed looking at the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD), which ranks each neighbourhood by its level of deprivation, combining information from seven key factors. Those described as the “most deprived” are in the bottom 20% of the IMD and those described as the “least deprived” are in the top 20% of the IMD.
  3. Download Charity Street II here
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Charity Street II: The findings

Read the exclusive report and see the infographic of how different age groups, areas and households use and value charities in the UK today.

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