Number of Working Families living in Poverty Rises

Posted on 23 December, 2013 by Kirsten Kennedy

Many of us will now be getting into the full swing of the festive celebrations and anticipating a few days of over-indulgence. Yet, for those on low incomes, Christmas can bring a whole new set of pressures and push family budgets to the limit.

In a study, entitled Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion, conducted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) it was discovered that obtaining work no longer necessarily means an automatic escape from poverty and, in fact, could make British families worse off.

Of the 13 million living below the poverty line in the country today, 6.7 million come from working families – meaning that, for the first time ever, there are more working families than non-working families living in poverty.

A large contributory factor to this is the average 8 per cent plunge in average income since 2008. This has meant that around 2 million adults on today’s wage would have been below the poverty line in 2008, yet due to inflation are currently above the poverty line in today’s terms.

Chief executive of the JRF, Julia Unwin, believes something must urgently be done to ease the burden upon working families.

She says; “Hard work is not working.

“We have a labour market that lacks pay and protection, with jobs offering precious little security and paltry wages that are insufficient to make ends meet.”

Fortunately, the JRF did note several positive factors in the study, such as the fact that the number of pensioners living below the poverty line has hit the lowest level for 30 years. Furthermore, improvements in health and education outcomes in the longer term have led to a decrease in unemployment and underemployment, making for a more productive and therefore satisfied workforce.

Following the release of the report, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) denied that work is no longer the best way for British families to get above the poverty line.

A spokesman said; “Despite claims to the contrary, work absolutely remains the best route out of poverty – children in workless families are around three times more likely to be in poverty than those in working families.

“Our welfare reforms are designed to further increase work incentives and improve the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities, with the Universal Credit making three million households better off.

“And as this report recognises, we have helped to revive the labour market with record employment and over a million extra jobs created since 2010.”

With Christmas only two days away, families will be picking up last minute items for the big day. Sadly, this festive season may not prove to be as merry for those workers still failing to break through the poverty barrier.

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