Figures show that around 32.5% of the population fell into poverty at least once in the preceding three years. The persistent poverty rate for women was 1.5 percentage points higher than for men in 2014 in the UK.

43% of people who left education without any formal qualifications experienced poverty at least once between 2011 and 2014, twice the percentage of those with a degree or higher. Those classified as being in persistent poverty, meaning they had slipped under the poverty line in two of the previous years, was at 6.5% or 3.9m people. In Europe as a whole, 10.4% were identified as being in persistent poverty.

"The fact that such a large proportion of the British population have recently experienced poverty proves that getting people into work isn't the route out of poverty that it should be," Rachael Orr, the head of Oxfam's UK Poverty Programme told the Telegraph.

"Just under two thirds of children and working-age adults in poverty are in working households.

"The Government needs a clear and coherent strategy to tackle poverty or cuts to social security will see poverty rates in the UK reach even greater heights by 2020."

Richard Tonkin, head of household and income expenditure statistics at the ONS, said: "In the UK, compared with other countries, people have a relatively high risk of slipping into relative low-income poverty.

He added: "But high exit rates mean people are much more likely to escape poverty than in other countries."

The ONS suggests that the large numbers of people exiting poverty are because so many people had fallen into it. The latest figures also show that British people who fall below the poverty line have a higher chance of improving their living standards than any other major European country.

Overall 16.8% of people in the UK experienced poverty – defined as having an income of less than 60% of the median during 2014, just below the EU average of 17.2%.

A Government spokesman said: "We are working hard to eliminate child poverty and improve life chances; today's statistics show that our work in this area is paying off and the UK now has one of the lowest levels of persistent poverty in the EU.