More than a million pensioners are still living in poverty, partly due to their failure to claim benefits, the charity Age UK has claimed. In a new report, it said 1.6m pensioners in the UK are living below the poverty line, and are “floundering” on low incomes.
It conceded that the numbers living in poverty had fallen since 2000, but said progress had now stalled.
The report, called How We Can End Pensioner Poverty, said that many pensioners “had been walking a tightrope in recent years,” as food and utility bills have risen.
But the biggest cause of poverty was that people are missing out on £5.5bn worth of public support.
The report found that:
- 1.6m pensioners are missing out on Pension Credit, worth £33 a week
- 2.2m pensioners are missing out on Council Tax Benefit, worth an average £728 a year
- 390,000 pensioners could have claimed Housing Benefit, worth £48 a week
Age UK said that many people do not know that they are entitled to benefits; others are too proud or embarrassed to claim.
The Policy Studies Institute have released new research which examines the relationship between pay, employment and poverty. Here is a link.
A new report, published by the Work Foundation and written by researchers working for Policy Studies Institute and Coventry University, examines the relationship between employment, pay and poverty. It is one of a number of evidence reviews commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) to support its development of an anti-poverty strategy for the UK.
Employment is fundamental to the causes and solutions to poverty, and policy in the UK and elsewhere has focused on promoting employment as the key to tackling poverty. However, this approach now faces a number of challenges, including the increasing prevalence of ‘in-work poverty’, the current climate of fiscal constraint, and low earnings-growth as Britain emerges from recession. This review takes stock of what has been learnt about the relationship between employment, pay and poverty over the past 20 years, and examines the impact of employment-related interventions on poverty reduction.
A study by the Poverty and Social Exclusion project in the UK finds that the number of British households falling below minimum living standards has more than doubled in the past 30 years, despite the size of the economy increasing twofold.
According to the study, 33% of households endure below-par living standards – defined as going without three or more “basic necessities of life”, such as being able to adequately feed and clothe themselves and their children, and to heat and insure their homes. In the early 1980s, the comparable figure was 14%.
Other key figures reveal that
- almost 18 million people cannot afford adequate housing conditions
- 12 million people are too poor to engage in common social activities
- one in three people cannot afford to heat their homes adequately in the winter and
- four million children and adults aren’t properly fed by today’s standards
- Far more households are in arrears on their household bills in 2012 (21 per cent) than in 1999 (14 per cent). The most common bills in arrears now are utility bills, council tax and mortgage/rent.
A new report by Oxfam and the New Policy Institute says the coalition’s welfare cuts have pushed 1.75 million of the UK’s poorest households deeper into poverty, leaving more families struggling to cover food and energy bills.
The report highlights a drop in the overall value of benefits, which rose by less than inflation, as well as changes to housing benefit and council tax support that have forced some families into paying housing costs they were previously deemed too poor to pay.
The report found that 300,000 households have experienced a cut in housing benefit, 920,000 a reduction in council tax support and 480,000 a cut in both.
As a result of these cuts in housing benefit and changes to council tax support, around 1.75 million or the poorest families have seen an absolute cut in their income. Of these, 480,000 families are seeing their benefits being cut twice as they are affected by more than one of the changes. Whether a family is affected and by how much varies based on a range of factors which are largely out of the control of the individual. They depend on council tax band, the cost of local housing, family size and property size. But they all apply irrespective of income. The government needs to instate an ‘absolute minimum’ level of support. It should apply regardless of local authority or tenure and it should be high enough to prevent people from having to walk the breadline
This paper by Citizens Advice summarises the changes to benefits that have already taken effect and those still to come, and looks at what companies can do to identity customers in difficulty. It outlines steps companies can take to understand their customers, to proactively work with them, forbear from taking action that may make matters worse, and refer on those who need help.
It is also important that creditors are proactive in looking out for signs of potential financial difficulty and offering support accordingly. Forbearance and breathing space from their creditors will help customers who are having to adapt to a reduced income or a change in the way that their benefits are paid to avoid reaching breaking point.
A briefing called Ethnicity and deprivation in England was published in December 2013 by the Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE) and others as part of a series The Dynamics of Diversity: evidence from the 2011 Census. It examines how likely ethnic minorities are to live in deprived neighbourhoods.
The summary is here.
Joseph Rowntree Foundation published Tackling in-work poverty by supporting dual-earning families. The report examines how working families can be helped out of poverty.
The research reviews trends in employment among couple families with children and considers policies and the wider context in four areas likely to affect their employment rate: family leave, childcare, the labour market, and the tax and benefit system. It finds:
◾The risk of poverty is much higher for children in couple families where only one parent works;
◾sole earner families account for a significant minority of poor families with children.
◾Many fathers have to work long hours, making it harder for them to get involved in family life and more difficult for mothers to work. To enable more low-income families to have both partners in work,
The report recommends allowing second earners to keep more of their wages before means-tested benefits are withdrawn; more publically-funded affordable childcare; and phasing in more generous family leave, including longer paternity leave.