Despite at least one adult working full time, millions of households cannot make ends meet, Joseph Rowntree Foundation reports. Living standards have declined since 2008 despite the economy’s return to growth, the anti-poverty charity said, warning that families with children are at particular risk of a life in poverty.
The report found that 2.6 million households, or 60% of those where the total income is below the charity’s minimum income standard [MIS is determined by asking members of the public to define what is needed to “live to an adequate level”], included at least one working adult. About 600,000 households were living below the MIS – despite every adult being in full-time employment.
The threshold is £16,850 for a single person, £25,600 for a lone parent with one child and £36,060 for a single breadwinner with two children. Approximately 11.6 million people in the UK live below the MIS, the charity found, 28% of those the charity analyses. In 2008, prior to the banking crisis, approximately 21% fell below that level.
The report concluded: “Overall, the risk of falling short of a decent living standard has increased sharply since 2008-09. An improving economy alone is not guaranteed to reverse this rise.” The JRF said its findings showed that “the economic security of many working families is not assured in the recovery”, despite record numbers of people in work. “Cuts in benefits have outweighed improved job prospects to contribute to an increase in the risk of having too little income to meet the MIS,” the foundation said.
It warned that the picture for households with children was looking bleaker. Anyone living in a family with children has seen their risk of falling below the MIS watermark increase by a third since the previous report, it said. That means that 40% now live below the MIS – 2 million more than in 2008-09.