27/11/2012 - In-work poverty grows

Trade unionists have laid into the government after a think tank exposed the scandal of working families living in poverty.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) is a British social policy research and development charity, which funds a UK-wide research and development programme. It seeks to understand the root causes of social problems, to identify ways of overcoming them, and to show how social needs can be met in practice.

JRF exposed the scandal of over six million British working families who are now living in poverty.

"In-work poverty"
now outstrips poverty rates for people out of work, the foundation said.

New Policy Institute (NPI), another independent think tank working with JRF, also found that 1.4 million British workers were forced to take part-time work because there are no full-time jobs available - a increase of over half a million people since 2009 according to their Monitoring Poverty report, a copy of which can be downloaded here.

The economic collapse and devastating austerity measures forced on the British people by the Con-Dem government and Europe have led to record spending on benefits and tax credits, now at 13 per cent of the UK's GDP, causing almost five million people to claim jobseeker's allowance at least once in the past two years.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Unemployment has always been a fast track to poverty, but it's shameful that for millions of people in Britain today, work is no longer a route out of it."

"People are taking any job they can to make ends meet"
while adding "Some employers are fuelling low-pay Britain by paying staff the bare minimum when they can easily afford to pay more."

Julia Unwin, Chief Executive of JRF, said: "The most distinctive characteristic of poverty today is the very high number of working people who are also poor. Many more people have experienced poverty since the downturn, cycling in and out of insecure, short-term and poorly paid jobs. Tackling poverty requires a comprehensive strategy, but overcoming the frail jobs market must be the starting point."

Transport union RMT general secretary Bob Crow was clear on what steps should be taken declaring that if Greece and Spain "can mobilize mass resistance to the political and business elite then so can we. Europe-wide, generalised strike action should be our clear objective for the New Year."

Patrick Harrington of Solidarity said: "Unless our economy starts growing again we won't get the high quality full-time jobs that people really need. Low wages are a drag on economic recovery and cause British families to struggle with everyday costs they face, trapping them below the breadline and into terrible poverty"

Report from Ian Bell