Sixty per cent of people living in poverty in the UK live in a household where someone is in work, the highest figure recorded, according to a new Cardiff University report which shows having only one worker in a family is the main risk factor for poverty.
The report by Dr Rod Hick and Dr Alba Lanau from Cardiff University’s School of Social Sciences, finds that the risk of poverty for adults living in working households rose by more than a quarter, from 12.4% to 15.7%, during the 10-year period 2004/5 to 2014/15.
The research finds that the number of workers in a household, and not low pay, is the primary determinant of in-work poverty.
“There has been a lot of discussion recently about how increasing the minimum wage can help to reduce poverty,” according to Dr Rod Hick, School of Social Sciences, who led the research.
“However, what our report finds is that less than half of adults experiencing in-work poverty have a low paid worker in their household, and most low paid workers live in non-poor households…”
The report also finds that the rise in in-work poverty has been concentrated amongst households in the private rented sector and amongst social housing tenants.
Dr Hick adds: “Our research finds that housing costs are becoming an increasingly important factor in determining poverty rates amongst working families.
“If policy does not do more to tackle rising housing costs directly, then it seems likely that these will eat up gains made elsewhere – for example, in terms of the planned increases in the minimum wage.”
To help tackle the problem the report makes a series of recommendations, including supporting families with children to be able to take up additional paid employment through ensuring childcare is available and affordable; reversing cuts to tax credits to ensure that low income working families are supported; and tackling the high housing costs experienced by families, especially in the private rented sector.