Poverty among Britain’s younger generations surges claims new report

26th November 2015


Some 1.7m people aged 16-24 are living in poverty, 400,000 more than a decade ago, claims new research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).

The analysis found that Britain’s young are far more likely to be struggling as a lower 1.4m people aged 65 plus are living in poverty, 600,000 less than a decade ago.

Britain’s youth are also four times more likely to be unemployed: 16% of under 25s are unemployed, compared to 4% of the working age population as whole.

Overall, the same number of people, at 13m, are living in poverty after housing costs as a decade ago.

The JRF’s report highlighted that a lack of well-paid jobs, genuinely affordable homes and opportunities to get on at work or in education is making it harder for people to build a secure future.

The study concluded that there are 3.7m children living in poverty in the UK today, the same number as 10 years ago and the proportion of households with no working adult is now at its lowest level since comparable records began, with 16% of working-age households having no adult in work.

But for people of any age group, finding a job is not a reliable route out of poverty, as more than half, at 51% of those below the poverty line, live in a household with at least one adult in work.

In addition the report said that the proportion of people living in poverty who live in the private rented sector has nearly doubled over the last 10 years to 4.2m. The numbers living in other sectors have fallen, to 4.4m in the socially rented sector and 4.1m owner occupiers.

Julia Unwin, chief executive of JFR said: “The next generation is being condemned to a worse set of circumstances in which to live, work and raise a family. This year’s report reveals that a large proportion of young people are being locked out of the opportunities they need to build a secure future – a secure home, a job that pays the bills and the chance to get on in life.

“A welcome fall in the number of pensioners living in poverty, thanks partly to direct action from the Government, shows that this is a problem which can be solved. We need to see the same commitment to tackling the drivers of poverty among younger people, including low pay, unaffordable housing and difficulties entering into and progressing at work. There is an important role for businesses, employers, and local leaders, who must to work together if we are to eradicate poverty once and for all.”

Tom MacInnes, co-author of the report said “The report shows some good news – unemployment has fallen, as has underemployment. The proportion of people in workless households is the lowest for at least 20 years. But while the labour market has been strong, the housing market is an increasing source of problems – rising homelessness, rising evictions, increasing numbers of families housed in temporary accommodation.

“Most of these problems emanate from the private rented sector, where a growing number of people in poverty, including over 1m children, now live. This is the sharp end of the housing crisis. Increasing the supply of secure, affordable homes across all tenures, is essential to eliminating poverty in the UK”.

To reduce poverty JRF is calling on the government to tackle the education gap and make sure that children living in poverty have the same life chances as their better off peers, for example by getting the best teachers into more deprived schools.

In addition it wants to see that strong growth in employment translates into well-paid jobs with opportunities for progression in all parts of the UK and that the National Minimum Wage for under-25s keeps pace with rises in the National Living Wage.

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