Work doesn’t pay and British families know it

Fourteen million people, including four million children, live in poverty in Britain, and more than half of those come from working families.

Proletarian writers

Subscribe to our channel

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s latest report casts new light onto the blighted lives of rising numbers of workers in Britain. Today there are 400,000 more children living in poverty than there were five years ago, despite repeated pledges by successive governments to end child poverty by 2020. Single working parents and their children are particularly likely to be hit.

Proletarian writers

Subscribe to our channel

The proportion of people with a job who live in poverty has gone up for the third consecutive year to a record high.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has reported that more than half – about 56 percent – of people living in poverty in 2018 were in a working household, compared with 39 percent 20 years ago.

The foundation defines poverty as when a family has an income of less than 60 percent of median UK income for their family type, after housing costs.

Seven in 10 children in poverty are now in a working family, the charity’s latest poverty report found.

Single-parent families have been the worst affected as wages continue to fall below living costs. Working single parents accounted for three in 10 households in poverty in 2018, compared with two in 10 in 2011.

The study’s authors noted: “Despite rising levels of employment, in-work poverty has also gone up because often people’s pay, hours, or both, are not enough.” This is, of course, a result of such free-market wonders as the so-called ‘gig economy‘ and zero-hour contracts, whereby workers have seen their rights decimated along with their pay and conditions.

The foundation said that 14 million people now live in poverty in Britain, including four million children and two million pensioners, up by 400,000 and 300,000 respectively over the past five years.

The authors said that people were more likely to be in poverty if they lived in certain parts of Britain, in a family where there is a disabled person or a carer, if they work in the hospitality or retail sectors, or if they live in rented housing.

According to the research, the worst-hit regions were London, the north of England, the Midlands and Wales, while the lowest poverty rates were found in the south of England, Scotland and northern Ireland.

Reflecting on the fact that the poorest in Britain receive worse healthcare and have the most insecure jobs, the foundation’s executive director Claire Ainsley said it was an indictment of recent government policy that the number of people in poverty across the whole workforce had risen from 9.9 percent in 1998 to 12.7 percent in 2018.

The charity also highlighted the massive rise in young people who have no option but to continue living with their parents, instead of moving out and starting a families of their own, labelling these as “concealed households”.

Twenty years ago, 20 percent (2.4 million) of 20- to 34-year-olds lived with a parent or guardian. In 2018, that had risen to 30 percent, affecting 3.9 million young people.

Distribution of private wealth

Inequality is endemic in capitalist society, and it is rising all the time.

The richest 10 percent of households in Britain own 44.6 percent of private wealth, while the poorest 30 percent together have less than 2 percent. The poorest ten percent of British people have £18bn of non-property debt (credit cards, overdrafts, HP, etc) while the richest ten percent only have £11bn.

Socialists must never tire of telling people that the political system that we live under (capitalist imperialism) is the cause not only of the fabulous wealth of a tiny handful of leeches who live by exploiting the masses, but is the cause also of the misery, exploitation, ill health, etc that the mass of the workers experience to a greater degree year upon year.

Only a workers’ movement that replaces this parasitic set-up with a socialist planned economy can provide the solution – an economy that is geared towards providing a decent standard of living for all workers, and which will lay the foundations for a future world of peace and plenty.