Wednesday, September 9, 1998 Published at 10:30 GMT 11:30 UK
15% of UK 'in poverty'
About one in 10 Britons are not expected to live to 60
Deprivation, unemployment and low literacy levels make the UK one of the most poverty-stricken countries among developed nations, according to a new United Nations report.
Only the Republic of Ireland and the US suffer higher levels of poverty than the UK.
The UK was ranked 14th - behind countries such as Germany, Japan and Australia - in the United Nations Development Programme's poverty index.
More than a fifth of UK adults are considered functionally illiterate while 13.5% were living below the recognised level of the poverty line - half the median personal disposable income.
After taking in to account life expectancy, knowledge deprivation and social exclusion, the report says 15% of the UK population live in poverty.
It also says 9% of Britons are not expected to live to 60.
The gap between rich and poor is growing across the world, the report says, with 20% of the world's population consuming 86% of goods and services.
According to the UN, global consumption will top $24 trillion this year, six times the figure for 1975, as people consume more food, energy, transportation, communications services and entertainment.