UK poverty increases despite low unemployment

LONDON (AFP) – Poverty in Britain has risen among workers despite the country’s lowest unemployment in 45 years, an organisation for social change said yesterday, while urging the new government to take action.

“Although employment has increased, in-work poverty has also gone up because often people’s pay, hours, or both are not enough,” said the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF).

JRF’s ‘state of the nation’ report on poverty in the United Kingdom (UK) revealed also that poverty had risen for children and pensioners over the last five years. In total, 14 million people in the UK were living in poverty, it said.

JRF added that a single person or family was deemed to be in poverty should they have an income that is less than 60 per cent of their family type’s median earnings after housing costs such as rent.

“The new government has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make historic progress and enable people and communities to truly level-up,” JRF said.

Its Executive Director Claire Ainsley added, “As a nation we have made progress before and we can and must do so again with this new government and a new settlement after Brexit.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative party convincingly won a general election last December that helped to unlock Brexit.

Recent official data meanwhile showed that Britain’s unemployment rate stands at 3.8 per cent, the lowest level since 1975. The employment rate is at a record-high 76.3 per cent. However JRF said that 56 per cent of people in poverty come from a UK working family, compared with 39 per cent 20 years ago.