Last year in the UK, the working poor outnumbered non-workers for the first time in history, a new report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation reveals.
The report states that over 13 million working Britons are living in poverty, surviving on paltry wages that equal less than 60 per cent of the median national income and suffering from increasingly poor living standards.
At the same time, the charity found that the number of pensioners living in poverty last year was at a 30-year low.
The annual JRF report was undertaken by the New Policy Institute, which tracked numerous indicators from government data as well as income, pension, and education surveys.
In 2011-2012, the poverty threshold was set at £128 per week for a single adult, £172 per week for a single parent of one child, £220 per week for a childless couple, and £357 per week for a couple with two children.
“We have a labour market that lacks pay and protection, with jobs offering precious little security and paltry wages that are insufficient to make ends meet. While a recovery may be gathering momentum in the statistics and official forecasts, for those at the bottom, improving pay and prospects remain a mirage,” said Julia Unwin, Chief Executive of JRF.
When reviewing the figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions, the authors of the report discovered that working adults without children were more likely to be living in poverty than other groups, and according to the report, child poverty was at its lowest level in a quarter of a century.
However, the report stated that average incomes for residents of the UK have fallen by eight per cent from their high in 2008 due to a significant rise in the number of people in low-paying jobs.
Along with stagnant wages, the weak economy in recent years has led to a marked increase in part-time workers, exacerbating the problem.
Rachel Reeves, pensions and shadow work secretary, said the increasing number of low wage jobs is a “major contributor” to the current UK cost-of-living crisis and largely responsible for a rising benefits bill.
“It’s not right that millions of people are going out to work, working harder and harder, and can’t afford to bring up their families,” Reeves said.
The proportions of those living in poverty have also been greatly affected by the rapidly falling rate of poor pensioners.
The report credited pension credits, private pensions, and government actions shielding pensioners from austerity measures for the increasingly low levels of pensioners living in poverty.