The DWP has recently released data on the impact of the recession on the low waged. It is something that I have deep knowledge as I am in the category of in work poverty.
The number of children in poverty in working households has increased in recent years and now is in the majority. In part, this is the effect of the recession. The employment statistics show a big increase in part-time working up by 45%, and it is such part-working families – where either no one is working full-time or where one adult is staying at home – that are usually the ones who are both in work and in poverty. I suspect that the problem which I recently wrote about is a dilema faced by an increasing number of households in North Staffs.
Of course North Staffs has historically been a low wage economy but there is evidence that even with the existence of the National Miminum Wage poverty in work remains an intracable problem.
The recession, though, is only part of the story here. With the exception of the period 1999-2004, in-work poverty has been on a rising trend since at least as long ago as the late 1970s. It was the return to rising in-work poverty after 2004-05 that destroyed the last Government's objective of halving child poverty by 2010.
The way the DWP reports this statistic, six in every 10 children in poverty now belong to a working household. This proportion is broadly similar for the 7.8 million working-age adults in poverty. The increase in this number over 10 years, of 1.1 million, would be seen as a huge policy failure had the previous government ever shown the slightest interest in adults without children.
And perhaps this in truth is why the DWP has said so little about these figures. For it suits politicians to claim that work is the route out of poverty. But clearly, myself included work, does not necessary end the slipping into poverty.
The truth is very different. Work that does not provide a sufficient income is now much more to blame for poverty than worklessness. One question that has to be addressed is whether wages have been surpressed by the influx of immigrant labour from Eastern Europe.
If the Coalition is serious about poverty reduction, it will need to direct its reform efforts not just at the world of welfare but at the world of work.
A de regulated economy with a emasculated trade union movement has had a devastating impact upon the working poor of North Staffs.
A Living Wage now!!!