BRITAIN'S economic recovery will be hindered unless more is done to help tackle desperate hardship, a York-based expert has warned.

Julia Unwin, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said poverty was not inevitable and that dramatic social change is achievable.

Tomorrow, she will deliver the latest Go York lecture, looking at the role of emotion, evidence and events in brining about major change.

She will refer to examples such as women gaining the vote, changing attitudes to smoking, nutrition, food safety and the sudden drive to tackle homelessness in London in the 1980s to show that powerful and unexpected change is achievable.

She said she is optimistic similar shifts can be achieved to improve Britain's approach to poverty, and said it was important to challenge more negative narratives.

Speaking to The Press, she said: "I do not think poverty is at all inevitable. There is no reason for there to be food banks. We have all the tools we need to change it - we are returning to growth, we have well-meaning people and we know it is very expensive for the state keeping people poor.

"I feel very optimistic that if we work together we can make some big changes."

She warned that failure to act would prove costly and skew any recovery, saying: "We will not return to a strong economy while we are carrying the huge costs of supporting people living in desperate poverty."

In tomorrow's lecture, Mrs Unwin will say change can be fuelled by various conditions, including an alliance of people from varying fields calling for the same thing, the demonstration of achievable solutions, and sometimes a single key moment, such as the BSE scare prompting more stringent regulations on food safety.

- Julia Unwin will deliver the Go York lecture in the De Grey Lecture Theatre at York St John University at 6.30pm tomorrow.