Britian’s in-work poverty is currently in “unacceptable situation”, as the rate has risen from 9.9 percent of workers in 1997/98 to 12.7 percent now, said the “UK Poverty 2019/20” report released Friday.
“Around 56 percent of people in poverty are in a working family, compared with 39 percent 20 years ago. This change has been particularly dramatic for children: seven in 10 children in poverty are now in a working family,” said the report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), an independent social change organization working to solve Britain’s poverty.
The findings came as Britain’s employment rate was estimated at a record high of 76.3 percent, with unemployment rate less than 4 percent, according to the January data published by the Office for National Statistics.
Claire Ainsley, executive director of the JRF, said: “The new government has an historic opportunity as we enter the 2020s…it will take sustained effort across the country and throughout the governments of the UK to unlock poverty.”
A family is classified as being in poverty if it has an income of less than 60 percent of the median income for their family type, after housing costs are taken into account, according to the JRF.
Of all family types, working single parents accounted for three in 10 households in poverty in 2018, compared with two in 10 in 2011, said the report.
The report found poverty rates are highest in London, the North of England, Midlands and Wales, and lowest in the South of England (excluding London), Scotland and Northern Ireland.
“While the proportion of people in employment has risen consistently for six years, weak local economies in some parts of the country have led to higher unemployment, underemployment and more low pay than in the UK as a whole. This needs to change, with prospects for people in struggling places needing to be prioritised, or progress will stall,” the report warned.
It also called for improvement in earnings for low-income working families, helping people in the lowest-paid jobs or working part-time, strengthening the benefits system as well as increasing the amount of low-cost housing housing available for families on low incomes, and increasing support for people with high housing costs.