No longer 'managing': The rise of working poverty and fixing Britain's broken social settlement

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In this paper we trace the emergence of a poorly understood social challenge and one which symbolises Britain’s broken ‘social settlement’: the continued rise in working poverty since the beginning of this century.

Our welfare system is built on the notion that work is the main route out of poverty and this government has promised to ‘level up’ opportunity through skills, jobs and economic growth. Yet for increasing numbers of working families around the country, the promise of social mobility through ‘hard work’ as a route out of poverty alone is failing to deliver.

We argue for greater priority to be given in welfare and economic policy to bringing down the high costs of housing, childcare and other essential goods as a proportion of household income, as well as reforms to genuinely ‘make work pay’.

On BBC Radio 4 Today, lead report author Clare McNeil said that people are getting a raw deal for doing the right thing.*

The report lists four factors behind the growth in poverty: spiralling housing costs among low-income households; low wages; a social security system that has failed to keep up with rental costs; and a lack of flexible and affordable childcare.

It identifies the economy’s over-dependance on house price growth as a key factor in driving poverty higher, as more families have to rely on renting privately.

The Guardian reported on our call for action to be taken to tackle the high costs for housing, childcare and other essential goods as a proportion of household income, as well as reforms to genuinely ‘make work pay’.

Watch Jocelyne's story about what life in working poverty is like in this powerful ITV London report. (More than one in five Londoners in working households live in poverty, according to exclusive @IPPR research seen by @itvlondon. The figure for the capital is higher than any other part of the UK.)

* Real pleasure to speak to @amolrajan. He nailed it: ‘We have an unspoken social contract which says get a job & you can lead a decent quality of life, but for millions of people that is no longer true. Is that basic social contract becoming redundant?’