Working households more likely to be in poverty
WORKING households are more likely to be living in poverty than those whose only income is benefits, a study has claimed.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation found in-work poverty was increasing and that Wales had the highest proportion of households on a low income in Britain.
The social policy research charity blamed “a low pay, no pay jobs market”.
In response the Welsh Government said it wanted to get more people into “full-time and high quality work” through its Tackling Poverty Action Plan.
On average between 2009/10 and 20011/12, 23 per cent of people in Wales (690,000) were living in poverty - compared with 22 per cent in England and 18 per cent in Scotland.
Households are classed as being in relative poverty if they live on less than 60 per cent of the median - or middle - income.
Of the people living in poverty, the report found there were more adults who had a job (285,000 on average in the three years to 2010/11) than not (275,000).
The worst problems were in rural communities while urban areas had a higher number of people living in out-of-work poverty.
As a proportion of their working-age populations, the west (Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion) and north Wales had a high share of in-work poverty, measuring 17 per cent and 28 per cent respectively.
The south Wales valleys (33 per cent) and councils south of the M4, such as Bridgend and the Vale of Glamorgan (22 per cent), have a higher share of out-of-work poverty.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation describes “a low pay, no pay jobs market that is trapping families in poverty - the working poor are the modern face of hardship in Wales”.
Daniel Wright from the charity said: “Wages haven’t been growing fast enough to meet rising costs and more people are in working families that work fewer hours.”
“There needs to be more of a focus on low pay - Wales needs its own Living Wage - as well as low hours from governments in Wales and Westminster.
“Tackling poverty requires a comprehensive strategy but overcoming the frail jobs market and the demand for jobs must be the starting point,” he added.
Welsh Deputy Minister for Tackling Poverty, Vaughan Gething AM, said: “We need to take effective intervening action. That’s why we want to tackle workless households. But we recognise that the Welsh government doesn't have all the levers.
“Much of what we want to see and need to see to effectively tackle poverty does rely on action the UK government takes.
“The nature of the recovery that we all want to see is one where we see more people not just in work, but in full-time work and high quality work...there’s really not much future for Wales as a country as a low-wage low-skill economy and that’s why education is a key strand in the tackling poverty plan,” he added.
The Welsh government has opposed the UK government's plans to reduce its welfare bill by £160bn in order to encourage people to find work.
Mr Gething added: “Austerity and welfare reform are having a real impact on our ability to tackle poverty.”
Almost a quarter of people in Wales (23 per cent) are currently living in poverty.
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