Number of workers in poverty at record high study claims

Measures needed against poverty
Measures needed against poverty

The number of workers living in poverty has reached a record high as the UK’s housing crisis fuels growing insecurity, a new study reveals.

Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) showed that 3.8 million workers, or one in eight, are in poverty after an increase since the economy started recovering six years ago.

A total of 7.4 million people, including 2.6 million children, are living in poverty despite being in working households, said the report.

The study said there was growing insecurity underneath the positive economic picture, including rising levels of employment.

The problem is being driven by the housing crisis, especially in the private rented sector, where the numbers living in poverty have doubled to 4.5 million in a decade, said JRF.

More than half of people in poverty in England live in London and southern England, and the capital has the highest poverty rate at 27% - 6% above the UK average, the study found.

Helen Barnard, head of analysis at the JRF, said: “The UK economy is not working for low-income families. The economy has been growing since 2010 but during this time high rents, low wages and cuts to working-age benefits mean that many families, including working households, have actually seen their risk of poverty grow.

“As it negotiates Brexit, it is vital that the Government does not allow its focus to slip from the domestic concerns that make a huge difference to people who are just about managing. This report shows that people on low-incomes cannot rely on economic growth and rising employment alone to improve their financial prospects.

“Families who are just about managing urgently need action to drive up real-term wages, provide more genuinely affordable homes and fill the gap caused by cuts to Universal Credit, which will cost a working family of four almost £1,000 per year.”

JRF urged the Government to reduce poverty by taking measures including reversing cuts to the Work Allowance, end the freeze on working-age benefits and build more affordable housing.