6.1 million working people in poverty
More people in work are also living in poverty, a new report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found.
JRF warns that the Government must “give up the belief that welfare reform” is the solution, and that it will take more than simply increasing employment and pushing more people into university.
The number of people experiencing in-work poverty has risen by a fifth in a decade to 6.1 million, leaving workers increasingly reliant on welfare due to low wages or part time employment. The report also highlighted that 60% of children living in low-income households have a working parent.
It states: “It is the poorest households that are the most at risk and even small changes to their benefits will dramatically reduce their income. As such these cuts to benefit spending cannot be seen as a good thing. Large numbers of families are to be hit by a combination of different cuts. These overlapping effects are something to which government has paid little attention.”
Julia Unwin, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “The most distinctive characteristic of poverty today is the very high number of working people who are also poor. Many more people have experienced poverty since the downturn, cycling in and out of insecure, short-term and poorly paid jobs. Tackling poverty requires a comprehensive strategy, but overcoming the frail jobs market must be the starting point.”
The report’s author, Tom MacInnes, research director at the New Policy Institute, added: “Low wages cause families to struggle with the costs they face, trapping them below the breadline.
“But it is in-work poverty that is becoming the modern face of hardship, and at the same time support for working people is being cut. The high level of in-work poverty undermines any idea that better incentives to enter work, the centrepiece of universal credit, is some kind of cure-all.”
A DWP spokesperson responded: “Our welfare reforms will improve the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities, with universal credit simplifying the complex myriad of means-tested benefits. It will make work pay – by allowing people to keep more of their hard-earned money as they move into work – and directly lift hundreds of thousands out of poverty altogether.”
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