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Deteriorating Financial Situation for Low Income Working Households

  • 16/04/2014

A new survey commissioned by the national charity Turn2us has found that almost three fifths (57%) of low income working households feel their financial situation has worsened in the last year. Despite signs of an improving economy, half of all people surveyed are worried about their financial situation as they struggle with a combination of falling wages, shorter working hours and rising living costs.

The survey, released to coincide with Turn2us’ annual Benefits Awareness Month, has found that on average, working households are forced to spend half of their monthly income on utility bills and food. Worryingly, nearly two-fifths (39%) say their outgoings now outweigh their earnings. Households are also facing barriers as they try to improve their situation. With 1.4 million in part-time jobs nationally – 46,000 higher than a year ago* – over half (57%) say they want to work more hours but they cannot get the work. While one quarter of those surveyed (25%) have seen a fall in their income in the last year.

Over half of the 13 million people living in poverty in the UK are now from working households**. Turn2us’ research found that over three-fifths (62%) are not claiming the benefits and tax credits they may be entitled to. Even more alarming, a huge 60% had not even checked their eligibility for this support, or did not know how to check what help may exist.

The toll this is taking on lives is severe. Over two-fifths (43%) have had no choice but to cut back on food and other essentials. Health is also being put at risk with almost a third (30%) unable to sleep and over a quarter (27%) experiencing depression. 

In response to these on-going problems, Turn2us Benefits Awareness Month is focusing on the huge numbers of people who are in work yet struggling to make ends meet. The campaign, ‘Be Aware’, is encouraging everyone to check what financial support could be available by using Turn2us’ free, online Benefits Calculator at www.turn2us.org.uk/BeAware. The website also features information on support for different employment groups, so that people can access further help, whether they are employed full-time or part-time, self-employed, on zero contracts, or on leave.

Alison Taylor, Director of Turn2us said: “Today, Turn2us launches Benefits Awareness Month and reveals the extent to which working households are struggling in poverty. Our research shows that the stranglehold on pay, underemployment and the climbing cost of living all show no signs of easing and any economic improvements are failing to reach the UK’s poorest people. It’s clear that more needs to be done to combat poverty, especially for those people in work.

“Help is available in the form of Working Tax Credit and other welfare benefits and it can make a huge difference. We found that 85% of current claimants in work said benefits have had a positive impact on their lives and helped with housing costs, bills and even avoiding debt. The Turn2us ‘Be Aware’ campaign brings together our free Benefits Calculator and information so others can access this vital support.
“Our message is clear. Being in work does not mean the end of help.  We want everyone to know they are not alone and to ‘Be Aware’ of the support that is available.”

The ‘Be Aware’ campaign is being supported by charities and organisations across the UK to help increase awareness of the support available for people struggling in work on low incomes.

For more information about the campaign, please visit www.turn2us.org.uk/BeAware or http://www.turn2us.org.uk/

For further information and interviews with Turn2us case studies or spokespeople, please contact:          
Emma Lamberton, Communications Officer, Turn2us
Email: Emma.Lamberton@turn2us.org.uk Telephone: 0208 834 9259

Notes to Editors

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Research Now. Total sample size was 2008 employed adults with annual household incomes under £25,000 before tax and deductions
*ONS_Labour_Market_Statistics_2014_(link_opens_in_a_new_window_PDF _77.18kb)
**Joseph_Rowntree_Foundation_research_December_2013_(link_opens _in_a_new_window_PDF_229kb)

For the campaign, Turn2us is working in partnership with organisations including: Bank Workers Charity, Chartered Accountants Benevolent Association, Family Fund, Family Lives, Foundations, Grocery Aid, Help Musicians UK, Retail Trust, Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, Transact, Working Families, Zacchaeus 2000 Trust.

About Turn2us

  • Turn2us helps people in financial need gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help – online, by phone and face to face through our partner organisations
  • The Turn2us free, accessible website - http://www.turn2us.org.uk/ is designed to help people access the money available to them – through welfare benefits, charitable grants and other help
  • Turn2us is part of Elizabeth Finn Care