What it means to die with dignity – the basic rights everyone deserves at the end of life

Every year 90,000 people die in poverty.

And those who die at working age are twice as likely to die in poverty compared to those who live past pension age.

Sombre statistics such as these are hard to take in, but researchers at Loughborough’s Centre for Research in Social Policy (CRSP) are working closely with end-of-life charity Marie Curie to influence Whitehall and improve standards for dying people and their families.

In the third video interview marking the 40th anniversary of CRSP, Loughborough’s Dr Juliet Stone and Mark Jackson, from Marie Curie, sit down to discuss the prevalence and risk of poverty among people with terminal illness in the UK, and how policy interventions could help this vulnerable group.

Dr Stone’s research shows that more than 1 in 4 (28%) people who reach the end of their lives before retirement age die in poverty.. But the risk also differs across other subgroups of the population.

She said: “People from ethnic minority groups have a very high risk of being in poverty at the end of life, as do those with dependent children.”

They also talk about Marie Curie’s Nobody Should Die in Poverty campaign – an initiative which lobbies the Government to give terminally ill people early access to their State Pension as well as support with domestic energy and childcare costs.

Senior Policy and Research Manager at Marie Curie, Mark said: “Our campaign is nobody should die in poverty, which, I think everybody would agree with as a principle, but it's something we're not delivering as a country at the moment.

“The key implication for us from our research with CRSP is that the working age benefits system right now is not fit for purpose – our campaign aims to convince the UK and devolved governments of that and calls for changes to ensure terminally ill people get the financial support they need at the end of life.”

The videos have been put together to mark the 40th anniversary of CRSP.

The centre was established in 1983 by Professor Sir Adrian Webb.

Over the years, it has strived to improve people’s lives through social policy change.

It is the home of the Minimum Income Standard (MIS), a basket of goods and services – chosen by members of the public – that people should be able afford in order to live comfortably.

The centre’s other work includes the Cost of a Child, Retirement Living Standards and Bringing up a Family on a Low Income.

The other two videos in the series feature the centre’s Co-Directors Professor Abby Davis and Professor Matt Padley.

Professor Davis and Katie Schmuecker, Principal Policy Adviser at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), discuss the Minimum Income Standard (MIS) and its impact on society, both in the UK and around the world.

Professor Padley is joined by Rebecca O’Connell, Professor of Food, Families and Society at the Centre for Research in Public Health and Community Care (CRIPACC) at University of Hertfordshire, to discuss food insecurity, children and young people, free school meals and the impact of inflation.

All three interviews are hosted by Peter Warzynski and are available to watch on YouTube:


Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 23/116

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2023 QS World University Rankings – the seventh year running – and University of the Year for Sport by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2022.

Loughborough is ranked 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2023, 10th in the Guardian University League Table 2023 and 11th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’, and in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 over 90% of its research was rated as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally-excellent’. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.