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In-work poverty rise due to benefit cuts for low-wage earners, says think tank

THE TORIES’ ongoing cuts to in-work benefits has seen a rise in the number of working-age adults living in relative poverty, the Resolution Foundation revealed today.

The think tank found that the rate has risen to almost seven in 10 workers or an adult who lives in a household where someone works – compared with nearly five in 10 in 1996/97.

Resolution Foundation’s Lindsay Judge said that in-work poverty was “one of the biggest challenges facing 21st-century Britain.”

Relative poverty is deemed to be having less than two-thirds of the median income after housing costs are taken into account.

Social housing tenants who are employed are more than twice as likely to live in relative poverty than homeowners and those in privately rented accommodation, the study also found. 

Ms Judge said: “The rise of in-work poverty has led some to mistakenly downplay the importance of work in tackling poverty. In fact, finding a job halves someone’s chances of living in poverty.

“However, work alone cannot eliminate poverty. Support to sustain employment and progress out of low pay are needed alongside a benefit system that provides adequate support for low-income working families.”

The organisation found that, before the Tories’ benefit changes in 2010, a single parent with two children would have had to work 16 hours per week on the minimum wage to escape poverty.

But benefit cuts mean that the same single parent now needs to work 23 hours per week to make ends meet, according to the study.

The Resolution Foundation said training and upskilling is key to enable low earners to “progress” up the pay scale.

It added that policy makers should “ratchet up efforts” to end low-quality work such as jobs with zero-hours contracts and agency work, as it fails to “provide secure income needed to exit poverty sustainably.”

It also called for restoring “the value of benefits and ensure that all those entitled to in-work support are both aware of, and critically, not ashamed to make a claim.”

Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell said that the Conservatives had “ushered in this age of in-work poverty, where people have to work longer and longer hours to stay out of poverty.

“The past decade of decline has seen vicious social-security cuts, low-pay growth, and insecure work that have repeatedly pushed people back into poverty,” he added.

“We‘ll continue to fight to abolish it despite the Tories’ cruel complacency.”

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