Working families still locked in poverty – time to right the wrong of in-work poverty

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has today warned that working families are continuing to struggle on low incomes, with two thirds of children and working age adults in poverty belonging to working households.

Around 300,000 more people are now in poverty compared to last year, according to the Households Below Average Income figures for 2016/17 published today by the Department of Work and Pensions.

Almost half of children in lone parent households are now in poverty, the fourth successive increase and a jump of eight per cent over four years. Reductions in benefits and tax credits since 2015 mean that many households are also losing their anchor to prevent them from being pulled further into a current of poverty.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said:

“It’s totally unacceptable that so many working households are still locked in poverty. Families with children are continuing to struggle to make ends meet, and more households are at risk of being pulled in to poverty.

“Beyond the statistics, poverty restricts people’s choices meaning that families are having to make impossible decisions such as whether to heat their homes or pay their rent.

“We share a moral responsibility to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to build a better life. The Government must act to right the wrong of in-work poverty.

“We urge the Government to restore the Work Allowances in Universal Credit to their original level. By doing so, lower earners could keep more of their earnings ensuring they could reach a decent standard of living, benefiting over three million low income working households and protecting 340,000 people from being pushed into poverty by 2020 – 21.”

JRF warns that many of the most significant reductions to working age benefits will not be reflected in the 2016/17 figures, suggesting harder times to come for low income families.