Research carried out by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has revealed that poverty rates among children and pensioners are at risk of reversing the progress made over the last 20 years.
The UK poverty in 2017 analysis examined the progress that is being made in the UK to reduce poverty rates and tackle underlying drivers of poverty since the release of JRF’s Strategy to Solve Poverty back in 2016.
The research concluded that there were three main factors that contributed to the falling of poverty rates: increased support through the benefits and tax system, the rise in employment rates and the containment of rising rent through housing benefit and increased home ownership.
Due to the increasing percentage of now impoverished children and pensioners, all of these factors are now under question.
The continued rise in employment is no longer reducing poverty, support from tax credits and benefits is falling rapidly, and rises in rent cost and less help for low income renters leave more people struggling to afford the cost of housing.
The research found that 3.7 million, around one in eight, employed people also live in poverty.
The groups with the highest poverty rates are lone parent families and families with three or more children. Over the last 20 years poverty rates fell significantly for these groups with 58% of lone parents living in poverty in 1994/95. This percentage fell down to 41% in 2010/11 before rising back up by five percent in 2015/16.
The rising poverty amongst families with children can be largely attributed to reductions in support offered by benefits and tax credits.
Pensioners in the UK had the high poverty rates in 1994/95, with nearly three in 10 living in poverty. This fell to 13% in 2011/12, and now has risen again to 16%. The most affected were pensioners in single person households.
Campbell Robb, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 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. This is a very real warning sign that our hard-fought progress is in peril.
“Action to tackle child and pensioner poverty has provided millions of families with better living standards and financial security. However record employment is not leading to lower poverty. Changes to benefits and tax credits are reducing incomes, and crippling costs are squeezing budgets to breaking point.
“The Budget offered little to ease the strain and put low income households’ finances on a firmer footing.”