Among people in poverty, 3.8 million live in families where all adults work and 3.1 million live in families where one adult works and one does not. Less than half of people in poverty live in workless or retired families (6.4 million).

In 2013/14 6.8 million people in poverty were in families where someone was in work, 400,000 more than the number in poverty in families where no one was in work, including pensioner families at 6.4 million.

Over the last 15 years the number of people in poverty in a working family has been rising and the number in a workless or retired family has fallen. At the start of the 2000s 7.7 million people in poverty were in non-working families and 5.3 million were in working families – the split was 60:40. But these two numbers have converged throughout the 2000s and by 2008/09 the split was 50:50.

Since then the number of people in poverty in working and non-working families has fluctuated as unemployment overall increased and then fell. But the most recent year saw a continuation of the long-term trend with the number of people in poverty in a working family increasing by 200,000, the same as the decrease in the number in a non-working family.

Of those 6.8 million people in poverty in a working family, 3.1 million were in families where one adult worked and one did not. The vast majority of them were in families with children (only 650,000 were adults in couples without children).

More than half of people in in-work poverty were in families where all adults worked: 1.7 million in families where all adults worked full-time, 1.1 million where all adults worked part-time and 1.0 million where one adult worked part-time and one worked full-time.

Two-thirds of people in in-work poverty were in families containing children. But 900,000 people were in poverty despite having no children and being in families where all adults worked full-time.

Indicator: 8A

Indicator: 8B

about the indicator

The first graph shows the number of people in poverty after housing costs according to whether their family contains someone who is in paid work. A non-working family may not contain any people of working age (e.g. a retired pensioner couple).

The second graph shows the composition of families in after housing costs poverty in a working family. It also shows whether the people in poverty are children, adults with children or adults without children.

Reliability rating: high. The data is from a government published survey with a large sample size.

Next up on money

More on this report