400,000 more young people living in poverty than there were a decade ago - report finds

A study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has found that there are 400,000 more young people living in poverty than there were a decade ago.

The foundation's annual report found that 13 million people were living in poverty after housing costs, and concluded that the next generation is facing worse life chances than their parents. According to the report, a lack of well-paid jobs and affordable homes is making it much harder for this generation to build a secure future.

Finding a job "not a way out of poverty"

Finding a job is not a reliable route out of poverty, as half of those below the poverty line live in a household with at least one adult in work, the study found.

Tom MacInnes, co-author of the report, said:

"The report shows some good news - unemployment has fallen, as has underemployment. The proportion of people in workless households is the lowest for at least 20 years. But while the labour market has been strong, the housing market is an increasing source of problems - rising homelessness, rising evictions, increasing numbers of families housed in temporary accommodation."

Whilst unemployment has fallen, the report found that young people were four times more likely to be unemployed than the working age population as a whole, and there are more young people in poverty those aged over 65.

The young "locked out of opportunities"

The head of the JRF, Julia Unwin, said that there had been fundamental shifts in the causes of poverty and the groups which are at greatest risk of falling into the poverty trap:

"The next generation is being condemned to a worse set of circumstances in which to live, work and raise a family. This year's report reveals that a large proportion of young people are being locked out of the opportunities they need to build a secure future - a secure home, a job that pays the bills and the chance to get on in life.

"The welcome fall in the number of pensioners living in poverty, thanks partly to direct action from the Government, shows that this is a problem which can be solved. We need to see the same commitment to tackling the drivers of poverty among younger people, including low pay, unaffordable housing and difficulties entering into and progressing at work. There is an important role for businesses, employers, and local leaders, who must work together if we are to eradicate poverty once and for all."

A Government spokesman said: "The truth is, the percentage of people in the UK in relative poverty is at its lowest since the mid 80s. Youth unemployment is at its lowest level since early 2006 and we know that work is the best route out of poverty.

"That's why the Government is increasing work incentives by committing to three million more apprenticeships, extending free childcare, boosting earnings through a new national living wage and ensuring people keep more of what they earn by increasing the personal allowance."

"Bluster and spin"

In response, shadow work and pensions secretary Owen Smith said:

"A job should offer everyone a route out of poverty, yet these figures show more than half of families below the poverty line have at least one adult in work. While the prospects look ever worse for young people, with 1.7 million left struggling in poverty right at the start of their adult lives.

"For all their bluster and spin, in work poverty is rocketing on this Government's watch. There are now almost seven million working families in poverty. So it is a gross insult that the Tories are planning yet more cuts to the support working families rely on like tax credits, universal credit or housing benefit."

The Government's plans to cut tax credits, including housing benefits, has recently been rejected by the House of Laws, amid concerns they could throw many more people into poverty. Peers voted 289 to 272 in favour of the Government providing "full financial redress" to those already affected by the controversial tax credit cuts.

The full by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation can be read here.