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Little progress has been made tackling poverty, JRF warns

Families in poverty may find it much harder to recover from the current third lockdown, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has warned.

The JRF’s annual report on poverty in the UK warns even before the pandemic, little progress had been made on tackling poverty, and child poverty has been steadily rising.

The report says there has been a consistent rise in poverty among working people in recent years with almost a quarter (23%) of workers in the lowest paid sectors of retail, and accommodation and food living in poverty in 2018/19 – more likely to be women, young people and from ethnic minorities.

And while hourly pay has risen since 2014 because of increases in the minimum wage, lower-paid employees were offered fewer hours and little chance to progress at work.

The report also finds a third (35%) of Bangladeshi and Pakistani workers were in poverty in 2018/19 – around three times the rate for White workers (12%).

And more than a third (37%) of private renters were living in poverty, with the proportion of households renting privately almost doubling in the last 20 years from 10% to 19% of all households.

It follows a study by the Resolution Foundation and the Nuffield Foundation-funded Covid Realities research project at the University of York, which found costs have low-income families have soared during the pandemic.

‘It’s unacceptable that certain groups are bearing the brunt of the economic impact of Covid-19, and are now reeling from the latest blow of this third lockdown,’ said JRF director, Helen Barnard.

‘We all believe in justice and in looking out for each other, and we support policies that reflect these values. Ministers were right to increase Universal Credit by £20 a week and they must now make it permanent and extend this support to legacy benefits.

‘2020 was an extraordinarily difficult year for all of us and has shifted the dial in terms of what support is possible. Learning from this, there are serious injustices we cannot put off tackling any longer. We must not rest until everyone, regardless of their background, is able to achieve a decent life.’

Photo Credit – Chronomarchie (Pixabay)

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