Youth poverty surges while pensioners facing financial hardship falls to lowest ever level

24th November 2014


New research has concluded that while there has been a big rise over the past decade in the proportion of adults under 25 in poverty, at the same time far fewer pensioners than ever are struggling financially.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s (JRF) Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion report, also found there are more people in poverty living in working families – meaning as many are now in working families as workless ones.

The research noted the significant changes in the labour market over the last 10 years, where there has been a vast increase in insecure work – zero hours contracts, part time work and low-paid self-employment, which means that getting a job does not necessarily mean getting out of poverty.

The also report shows that two thirds of people who moved from unemployment into work in the last year are paid below the Living Wage and that the long term prospects for people in low paid work are not good either: only a fifth of low paid employees have left low paid work completely 10 years later.

The study also found that the average self-employed person earns 13% less than they did five years ago and that currently there are around 1.4m contracts not guaranteeing a minimum number of hours, and over half are in the lower-paying food, accommodation, retail and admin sectors.

But on a more positive note, the study found that there has been a vast reduction in pensioner poverty, which is now at the lowest on record, and the employment rate in the UK is close to its historic high.

The research also concluded:

The report highlighted that there is not enough social housing, meaning more people in poverty are living with insecure tenancies in the private rented sector. In fact the number of private landlord repossessions is now higher than the number of mortgage repossessions – 17,000 compared to 15,000 in 2013/14.

Commenting on the report’s findings, Julia Unwin, chief executive of JRF, said: “This year’s report shows a real change in UK society over a relatively short period of time. We are concerned that the economic recovery we face will still have so many people living in poverty. It is a risk, waste and cost we cannot afford: we will never reach our full economic potential with so many people struggling to make ends meet.

“A comprehensive strategy is needed to tackle poverty in the UK. It must tackle the root causes of poverty, such as low pay and the high cost of essentials. This research in particular demonstrates that affordable housing has to be part of the answer to tackling poverty: all main political parties need to focus now on providing more decent, affordable homes for people on low incomes.”

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