24 November 2014
A report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) reminds us that “the recovery is precarious for people in poverty”.
The JRF have released their annual report, Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion; an assessment of progress in tackling poverty and disadvantage across the UK. Rather than any progress, however, the report paints a bleak picture for poverty in the UK.
JRF says the report, conducted by the New Policy Institute (NPI), “reveals dramatic changes in who is most at risk compared to ten years ago”, documenting a the changing demographics of those in poverty. While poverty among pensioners is at an all-time low, poverty among working-age adults without children is as high as its ever been.
The shift in the demographics of poverty shows a particularly strong worsening for the young. The rise of part-time work and low-paid self employment has caused a marked effect on the under-25s – they face falling incomes, poor job prospects and rocketing housing costs.
The JRF remind us that as many people in working families as unemployed ones are now living in below the bread line: in 2014 a job is no longer a guarantee of an end to poverty.
Employment has fallen by 300,000 between 2013 and 2014, – encouraging on the surface, but 1.4 million adults are working part-time because they cannot find full-time employment. Two thirds of those moving into work from unemployment are still in low-paid work a year later, and only one fifth have left low paid work ten years later.
Average wages are falling relative to prices for both men and women, with pay for the lowest paid falling by 25%.
The number of people in poverty in private rented accommodation has doubled from 2.1m to 4.1m. The suffering of least well off is benefiting the rich.
The report also points out how the Tories’ assault on the welfare system has worsened life in poverty. It says, “Changes to the way the welfare system operates have worsened the experience of poverty for many of those affected – whether through rising sanctions, longer waits for assessment or poor job outcomes through welfare-to-work programmes.
“Legal support for social welfare cases has been almost completely withdrawn. As well as cutting support to people with debt and housing problems, this leaves people powerless to challenge incorrect decisions related to their benefits.”
Julia Unwin, the charity’s chief executive, said: “We are concerned that the economic recovery we face will still have so many people living in poverty. It is risk, waste and cost we cannot afford: we will never reach our full economic potential with so many people struggling to make ends meet.”