RNA - Despite an increase in employment, in-work poverty has gone up because of low pay and not enough hours of work, Mirror reported.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF)’s ‘state of the nation’ report on poverty found 56% of people in poverty are in a working family, compared to 39% 20 years ago.
Poverty has also increased for children and pensioners over the last five years, according to the research group.
The JRF research shows 14mln people are living in poverty, including 4mln children and 2mln pensioners, up by 400,000 and 300,000 respectively over the past five years.
Union leaders stated that the findings showed a pressing need to ban zero-hour contracts and increase the minimum wage and head teachers said the country’s record on poverty was “truly shocking”.
The highest poverty rates were in London, the North of England, the Midlands and Wales, and lowest were in the South, Scotland and Northern Ireland, according to the study.
The differences in poverty rates were often driven by the availability of good quality jobs and housing costs.
People were more likely to be in poverty if they lived in certain parts of the UK, in a family where there is a disabled person or a carer, if they work in the hospitality or retail sector, or if they live in rented housing.
JRF is urging the government to improve job security and quality, see the benefits system as an essential public service that loosens the grip of poverty, and help make more low-cost housing available.
Claire Ainsley, JRF executive director, said, “The new Government has an historic opportunity as we enter the 2020s."
“Past successes in recent decades show that it is possible for the UK to loosen the grip of poverty among those most at risk, but this progress has begun to unravel and it will take sustained effort across the country and throughout the governments of the UK to unlock poverty," she noted.
“Millions of families care for each other, raise their children and work hard without any guarantee that they will escape poverty, governments, employers and landlords all have a role to play in changing this," Ainsley added.
“It’s not right that so many are unable to build a firm foundation to their lives because their jobs are insecure or they can’t find a home they can afford," she stated.
“Without a better deal for working families, and a social security system that provides a public service for all of us, the UK faces further division and deeper poverty," JRF executive director said.
“That better deal needs to encompass the basics we all need, from building new homes to funding social security and bringing better jobs to all parts of the country,” she added.
Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary, said, “The Government must crack down on business models based on poverty pay and insecure jobs."
“Zero hours contracts should be banned and the minimum wage must go up to at least £10 an hour right away,” she added.
JRF announced that the poverty indicator it used is when a family has an income of less than 60% of median income for their family type, after housing costs.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, which found in a poll of members last year that 83% had seen an increase in the number of children coming to school hungry in the last five years, said, “School leaders are seeing more and more hardworking families struggling, and more children living in poverty".
“This country’s record on child poverty is truly shocking. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds have disproportionately suffered from cuts not just to education, but to all the wider services that should be there to help them," he stated.
“Successive governments have failed to invest in those who need it the most. This government must have the confidence to change that record," Whiteman added.
“Schools are at the center of efforts to improve equality of opportunity. But the issues that underpin inequality reach far beyond the school gates and exist throughout the communities that schools serve. Inequality will remain entrenched in the UK unless the government takes urgent action to break the grip of poverty,” he noted.