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Austerity and the new working poor
The privileged position of these establishment politicians is even more galling in that news of their forecast pay rise coincided with a report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) charity which shows a big increase in the numbers of working poor in Britain (see below).
At the same time, the New Economics Foundation think tank says: "Workers on low and middle incomes are experiencing the biggest decline in their living standards since reliable records began in the mid-19th century."
Some of the JRF report's main findings:
- The number of workers paid below the living wage (currently £7.65, £8.80 in London) rose from 4.6 million to five million in 2012.
- 50% of working families in poverty have an adult paid below the living wage
- The fall in median income over the last two years has wiped out all the gains of the previous decade, the JRF said.
- Median incomes in the UK in 2011-12, in real terms, were just below what they were in 2001-02 - £367 a week compared with £368
- Incomes of the poorest 10% have been falling since 2004-05.
- Average incomes have fallen by 8% since their peak in 2008. As a result, around two million people have an income that while above today's poverty line, would have been below the poverty line in 2008
- 6.7 million working families are living below the poverty line - a rise of 500,000 from 2012
- Julia Unwin, chief executive of the JRF, said: "Hard work is not working. We have a labour market that lacks pay and protection, with jobs offering precious little security and paltry wages that are insufficient to make ends meet."
- The government can claim that the number of pensioners in poverty is at a 30-year low... But, 6.3 million retired and unemployed families are living in poverty
- 400,000 families have been hit by a double whammy of benefit cuts from the 'bedroom tax' and council tax benefit. Two-thirds of these families were already in poverty
(Source: Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion report 2013)
In The Socialist 11 December 2013:
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