Number of working people living in poverty rises

The number of families living in poverty has grown by 200,000 in the past year. There are more children in poverty whose parents work than those who do not - highlighting that it is not just unemployment that causes poverty. New analysis reveals that in 2008/2009, there were 3.4 million families classed as "working poor".

The number of families living in poverty has grown by 200,000 in the past year. There are more children in poverty whose parents work than those who do not – highlighting that it is not just unemployment that causes poverty. New analysis reveals that in 2008/2009, there were 3.4 million families classed as “working poor”.

Research by the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr) shows that 1.7 million poor children live in working households, compared to 1.1 million children whose families don’t work. More than 60 per cent of children living in poverty have parents who are in paid employment.

The impact of the recession has led to more voluntary redundancies, pay freezes and a reduction in working hours, than expected. Employment numbers have risen despite the number of people considered to be living in poverty increasing.

Nick Pearce, director of ippr, said:

“While unemployment increased by less than expected in the recession, these figures clearly show that being in work is no guarantee of being out of poverty.

“We must tackle the cause of low pay… we need to make it easier for more families to have two earners – by, for example, improving childcare and work incentives. That will help lift children out of poverty and reduce inequality.”

Children from poorer backgrounds have also been hit hard by the scrapping of the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme in July, according to an internal assessment released by the Department for Education. According to the Guardian, the 675 projects that were scrapped by the DfE disproportionately affects schools that:

“…have higher proportions of children on free school meals, who speak English as a second language and have special educational needs, than the national average.”

The Mirror also reported this morning that Liberal Democrat MP, Bob Russell, is publicly opposing an extra £2.5bn cut to welfare benefits for disabled people and those who aren’t well enough to work, while fellow Lib Dem MP Mike Hancock said:

“I didn’t get elected to punish the poor and the less well-off. This is going hard at it with a sledgehammer.”

Last week Mr Russell was also quoted by the BBC saying he would like the Government to be as heavy-handed with tax evaders as those dependent on benefits. Since the general election, a number of Liberal Democrat and Conservative councillors have defected in opposition to the direction the Government is taking.

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