STUDIES: JRF chief executive Campbell Robb (Photo credit: JRF)
THOUSANDS OF children and older people are facing a sharp rise in poverty according to an analysis from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF). The research, called UK Poverty 2017, revealed a gradual increase in poverty rates over the past four years, reversing a trend of falling numbers since the mid-1990s.
It found that almost 400,000 more UK children and 300,000 more pensioners have struggled to keep up with the cost of living compared with 2012-13, the first sustained increases in child and pensioner poverty for 20 years.
According to the JRF, weak wage growth, rising inflation and benefit cuts were at the heart of the problem. About a third of children were living in families lacking the resources for their minimum needs in 1994-95 before the rate fell to 27 per cent in 2011-12 with the help of higher employment rates and tax credits introduced under the last Labour government.
The proportion of pensioners living in poverty fell from 28 per cent to 13 per cent over the same period. However, poverty rates increased to 16 per cent for pensioners and 30 per cent for children last year, while the charity also found as many as one in five people across the UK may be in poverty – which it defines as being when someone earns less than 60 per cent of median earnings
The think-tank has urged the Government to unfreeze benefits, increase training for adult workers and to embark on a more ambitious housebuilding programme to provide affordable homes for struggling families.
Following the report’s publication, Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, called on the government to raise the minimum wage to rise to £10 an hour and remove the cap on salaries in the public sector.
She said: “Working people are not getting a fair deal from the economy, with real wages still worth less than a decade ago.”
JRF chief executive, Campbell Robb said: “These worrying figures suggest that we are at a turning point in our fight against poverty.
“Political choices, wage stagnation and economic uncertainty mean that hundreds of thousands more people are
now struggling to make ends meet.”
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