There has been a dramatic change in who is most at risk of
poverty compared to 10 years ago, according to the latest
Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion report, written by the New
Policy Institute (NPI) for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Published today, the new report shows a big rise in the
proportion of adults aged under 25 who are in
poverty with a big fall among the over 75s.
More people in poverty are living in working families - as many
are now in working families as workless ones.
A bigger percentage of people living in poverty are
privately renting - as many are now in private as social rented
Significant change in the labour market
The labour market has changed significantly in the last ten
years with a enormous increase in insecure work – zero hours
contracts, part time work and low-paid self-employment – which
means that getting a job does not necessarily mean getting out of
The report shows:
- Two thirds of people who moved from unemployment into work in
the last year are paid below the Living Wage
- The long term prospects for people in low paid work are not
good either: only a fifth of low paid employees have left low paid
work completely 10 years later
- The average self-employed person earns 13% less than they did
five years ago
- There are around 1.4m contracts not guaranteeing a minimum
number of hours, and over half are in the lower-paying food,
accommodation, retail and admin sectors.
Positive and negative news
On the positive side, there has been a vast reduction in
pensioner poverty (which is now at the lowest on record) and the
employment rate in the UK is close to its historic high.
On the negative side:
- Incomes are lower on average than a decade ago and the worst
off have seen the biggest falls – nearly 10% lower than a decade
- Average wages for men working full time (in real terms) have
dropped from £13.90 to £12.90 per hour between 2008 and 2013
- For women (whose employment rate has never been higher) wages
fell from £10.80 per hour to £10.30 in the same period
- For the lowest paid quarter of men, hourly pay fell by 70p per
hour; for women, 40p per hour.
Housing market's impact on people in poverty
The report highlights the way the housing market has had a
negative impact on people in poverty.
- There is not enough social housing, which means more people in
poverty are living with insecure tenancies in the private rented
- The number of private landlord repossessions is now higher than
the number of mortgage repossessions (17,000 compared to 15,000 in
- The end of a private rented sector tenancy is now the most
common cause of homelessness (indicator 18B). The number of Housing
Benefit claimants has risen by over a million in the last 10 years
(indicator 12A), and despite an overall drop in the number of
claimants in the last year, there was an increase in working people
claiming Housing Benefit and the average amount they claim is
Welfare and public services not delivering as well as they
The research found that the welfare system and public services
are not delivering as well as they should be - and can vary vastly
from one area of the country to another:
- In some English local authorities, three quarters of children
eligible for free school meals do not get five ‘good’
- Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants are now more likely to be
sanctioned for not attending the Work Programme than to get a job
through participating in the scheme.
- Over 60,000 disabled people had to wait for more than nine
months for their employment support allowance claim to be
Comment from Joseph Rowntree Foundation's Chief Executive
Julia Unwin, Chief Executive of JRF, said:
“This year’s report shows a real change in UK society over a
relatively short period of time. We are concerned that the economic
recovery we face will still have so many people living in
poverty. It is a risk, waste and cost we cannot afford: we will
never reach our full economic potential with so many people
struggling to make ends meet.
“A comprehensive strategy is needed to tackle poverty in the UK.
It must tackle the root causes of poverty, such as low pay and the
high cost of essentials. This research in particular demonstrates
that affordable housing has to be part of the answer to tackling
poverty: all main political parties need to focus now on providing
more decent, affordable homes for people on low incomes.”
Comment from New Policy Institute's Research Director
Tom MacInnes, Research Director at the NPI, said:
“This report highlights some good news on employment – but
earnings and incomes are still lower than five years ago, and most
people who moved from unemployment into work can only find a low
paid job. Government has focussed its efforts on welfare reform,
but tackling poverty needs a wider scope, covering the job market,
the costs and security of housing and the quality of services
provided to people on low incomes.”
Joseph Rowntree Foundation press release (24 November 2014): Young,
working and renting: Report reveals changing picture of UK poverty
(link opens in a new window)
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Date of publication: 24 November 2014