One-fifth of Britons ‘living in poverty’

ONE IN FIVE of the UK population (22 per cent) are in poverty, according to he latest state of the nation report by the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).

According to the latest figures released this week by the leading authority on poverty in the UK, in-work poverty has been rising even faster than employment. There are now four million workers in poverty, around one in eight in the economy.

According to their latest figures, of the 14.3 million people in poverty , 8.2 million are working-age adults.

The report examines how UK poverty rates have changed in our society over the last few years, as well as over the longer term.

The report found that four million workers are living in poverty –a rise of more than half a million over five years; and that in-work poverty has been rising even faster than employment.

The charity said that the solution lies in reducing housing costs for renters and opening opportunities for better-paid employment.

Rising employment alone is not delivering lower poverty, say the organisation, rather, in-work poverty is increasing faster than employment.

The report found that many workers are caught in the middle of a series of moving currents: stuck in low-paid work, with little chance of progression, subject to high housing costs and using a weakening social security.

According to the organisation, it is these factors combined that are driving an unprecedented rising tide in poverty among workers. The organisation highlighted that little attention has been focused on reducing poverty for working-age adults without children.

The report also found that the recent rise in pensioner poverty has been primarily driven by increases in poverty among pensioners who rent. Poverty among pensioners in the private rented sector is now 36 per cent (up from 27 per cent in 2007/08). For social renters, poverty has risen from 20 per cent to 31 per cent since 2012/13.

Since 2010/11, eligible rent – the amount that Housing Benefit covers – has been falling behind actual rents paid by low-income pensioners. Poverty rates among pensioners who own their own home are low and have changed very little over the last decade.

The report found that in addition to having lower incomes week-to-week, people in poverty are also much less likely to be able to build up savings to help cover unexpected expenses, invest in improvements to their homes or access opportunities. Their options are often restrained by their circumstances, the report explains.

One in three of those in the poorest fifth have no savings at all. People on low incomes are also more likely to get into problem debt through falling behind with bills and credit payments. Six in ten people in the poorest fifth of the population report that they are in problem debt, most commonly falling behind with Council Tax payments, rent or utility bills.

Tess Lanning, director of the Living Wage Foundation, commented: “Employers can play their part by paying workers a real living wage that covers the cost of living.”