Number of workers in region living in poverty has not fallen since 2010 despite drop in unemployment
Poverty among people of working age in the East of England has not fallen in the past seven years despite a significant drop in regional unemployment, according to new research.
The proportion of working age people living in poverty in the region in 2016/17 was 18% – unchanged from 2010/11, figures from the Office for National Statistics show.
But union body the TUC, which analysed the figures, said this lack of progress comes despite unemployment in the East falling from 6.2% in 2011 to 3.9% in 2017.
A worker is considered to be in working age poverty if their household income is less than 60% of median household income, after housing costs.
The national proportion of workers in working age poverty, 21%, was also unchanged over the same period.
Sam Gurney, TUC regional secretary for the East of England, said: “If you work hard, you shouldn’t have to worry about making ends meet. But despite rising employment, lots of working families in the East of England are living in poverty.
“And unless ministers reverse their planned cuts to universal credit, things will get much worse.
“Working people in the East of England desperately need a new deal. This means cracking down on zero-hours contracts and sham self-employment. And more public investment is needed in infrastructure and public services to support the creation of great jobs that a family can live on.”
According to national HBAI (households below average income) data, the proportion of working age households living below the poverty line that have at least one adult in work was 60% in 2016/17 – meaning that the majority of working age people living below the poverty line were in households with work.
Meanwhile research from think tank the Resolution Foundation predicts that typical income growth will be slow over the next five years, with growth expected to reach 1.3% by 2022/23 – well below the pre-crisis average of more than 2%.
It added that “low to middle income” working-age households face up to three more years of flat or falling incomes.
The TUC has called on government to improve conditions for workers with measures including increasing the minimum wage to £10, giving public sector workers a pay rise, and raising public investment to 3.5% of GDP to fund infrastructure improvements.
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