PENSIONER poverty has fallen over the past decade, but there has been a big increase in the number of younger people living in poverty, according to a new study.
Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) also found a huge change in the labour market, with big rises in zero hours contracts, part-time work and low-paid self employment.
Two thirds of jobless people finding work in the past year earned below the Living Wage, while only a fifth of low-paid workers found better paid jobs over the past ten years, said the report.
The study of official government data revealed that the average self-employed worker earns 13 per cent less than they did five years ago.
Poverty among pensioners is now at the lowest level on record and the UK’s employment rate is close to a historic high, but incomes are lower than ten years ago, and average wages for full-time male workers have fallen by £1 an hour to £12.90.
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Other findings showed the number of private landlord repossessions are higher than mortgage repossessions. The end of private rented sector tenancy is now the most common cause of homelessness, according to the study – JRF’s annual report on the state of the nation.
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.”
Tom MacInnes, of the New Policy Institute, which wrote the report, 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 focused 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.”
A UK government spokesman said: “The truth is the percentage of people in the UK in relative poverty is at its lowest level since the mid-1980s and the number of households where no-one works is the lowest since records began.
“The government’s long-term economic plan is working to deliver the fastest growing economy in the G7, putting more people into work than ever before, and reducing the deficit by more than a third.
“The only sustainable way to raise living standards is to keep working through the plan that is building a resilient economy and has enabled us to announce the first real-terms increase in the minimum wage since the great recession.”
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