Most people in poverty are in working families – JRF

For the first time, there are more people in working families living below the poverty line (6.7 million) than in workless and retired families in poverty combined (6.3 million), according to the latest annual survey of poverty trends from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Key findings

  • In 2011-12, 13 million people in the UK were living in poverty (defined as living in households with income below 60 per cent of the median). A further two million people had incomes that, although above the latest poverty line, would have been below the poverty line in 2008.
  • Around 6.7 million people, over half of all those in poverty, lived in a family with at least one adult who was working – an increase of 500,000 on the previous year.
  • The largest single group in poverty were working-age adults without dependent children – 4.7 million people were in this situation, the highest on record. By contrast, pensioner poverty was at its lowest level for 30 years.
  • The proportion of low-paid jobs increased in 2012, with three fifths of them being done by the over 30s.
  •  Among those in work, the number paid below the 'living wage' rose from 4.6 million to five million in 2012. Half of working families in poverty have an adult paid below the living wage.
  • The fall in median income over the last two years has wiped out all the gains of the previous decade. But incomes for the poorest 10 per cent have been falling for much longer, since 2004-05.

Source: Tom MacInnes, Hannah Aldridge, Sabrina Bushe, Peter Kenway and Adam Tinson, Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion 2013, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
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Publication date: 
Dec 7 2013