UK Families face tough times as austerity continues
By 2015, 16 million British families will be living on low-incomes if the Government continues on its current path according to research recently published by the Trade Union Congress. The research is the latest in a string of studies indicating that the Government’s cuts are unfairly targeting poor and low-income families.
The TUC’s report entitled, “A bleak future for families” found that Welfare and Tax changes combined with wage freezes and inflation would also result in half a million more children living below the minimum income standard in 2015.
The minimum income standard was established by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), a social charity, to access how much income is needed in different types of households in order to provide a decent standard of living. For a couple with three children this is £31,460 annually and just under £24,000 for a single parent with two children.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Families are suffering the tightest squeeze on their living standards in nearly a century. On top of wages that do not keep up with prices, Government policies are making life even more miserable for millions of low to middle-income families through tax increases and cuts in benefits and tax credits.”
“By the 2015 election, the majority of children in Britain will be living below the breadline. For any civilised society, that should be shaming.”
Katie Schmuecker, programme manager at JRF supported the TUC’s findings.
“A dangerous cocktail of service cuts, rising prices and stagnating incomes are being keenly felt by many parents and their ability to have an acceptable living standard is suffering,” she said.
In response a spokesman for the department of work and pensions refuted the study and claimed that the Government remained “committed” to eradicating child poverty but intended to do so by tackling “root causes”. According to the spokesman, these include worklessness, educational failure and family breakdown.
Worklessness in particular, is regularly cited by Members of Parliament as a major cause of the Britain’s economic woes. Writing in the sun newspaper, the chancellor, George Osbourne made clear his desire to continue with the cuts and pledged to support “hard-working” people.
However, over the last decade in-work poverty has increased by 20 per cent whilst the number of workless households has remained roughly the same. Research published by the Joseph Rowntree
found that in-work poverty has risen by a fifth over a decade to 6.1 million whilst the number of families with no working members has remained steady at 5.1 million. Further, the study claims that more workers are relying on benefits to top up low wages, with over 4 million jobs paying less than £7 an hour and the number of working families receiving tax credits increasing 50% since 2003 to 2.3 million.
Authors of the study strongly criticised Government Ministers for insinuating that poverty is about “worklessness and welfare dependency” as 60% of children living in poverty are in working households.