Millions of working people trapped in poverty, new report reveals

Millions of working people are trapped in poverty despite record-high levels of employment because employers are not offering the wage levels and hours required to cover the cost of living.

7 Feb 2020| News

This is according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s State of the Nation report, published today, which warned that more than half (56%) of people living in poverty live in a working family and the poverty rate among children has reached its highest level in 20 years.

Overall, 14 million people are currently living in poverty in the UK, including three million from a family where someone is disabled, and four million children.

”Millions of families care for each other, raise their children and work hard without any guarantee that they will escape poverty – governments, employers and landlords all have a role to play in changing this,” Claire Ainsley, Executive Director of the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation said.

”It’s not right that so many are unable to build a firm foundation to their lives because their jobs are insecure or they can’t find a home they can afford.”

Poverty has risen fastest among single working parents, 30% of which are struggling financially in the UK, rising to over 50% in London. Speaking to JRF, many lone parents described their jobs as “dehumanising”.

Other risk factors included living in London, the North of England, the Midlands and Wales; having family who are disabled or who care for a disabled person; working in the hospitality or retail sectors, and living in rented housing.

Families stuck in low-paid or insecure work are facing additional challenges from the availability of cost-effective transport and childcare, partly because the largely female workforces of the hospitality, care and retail sectors are expected to work evenings and weekends.

Responding to the report, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The government must crack down on business models based on poverty pay and insecure jobs.

“No more excuses – zero-hours contracts should be banned. And the minimum wage must go up to at least £10 an hour right away.”