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Study Notes

Working poverty

AS, A-Level, IB
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB, Eduqas, WJEC

Last updated 27 Dec 2018

Working poverty refers to a situation where families with at least one person in paid work have a household income that keeps them below an officially recognised poverty line. In the case of the UK and many other advanced countries, the relative poverty line is drawn at a household income less than sixty percent of median income, adjusted for household size.

In many countries there has been a significant rise in the scale of working poverty over the last ten years. In part this has been caused by stagnant or falling real wages for millions of people in below-average paid jobs. Trade union membership has declined and many jobs offer vulnerable job security and uncertain weekly and monthly income streams - evidenced by the rapid growth of the Gig Economy and zero hours contracts.

In the UK, cuts in welfare benefits and tax credits since 2015 mean that many households are also seeing some of the welfare safety net being taken away.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has campaigned for policies to address the rising tide of working poverty. Some of their research can be found here.

This Channel 4 extended new report looks at the plight of families with people in work but who continue to live below the poverty line.

The Working Poor: Britain's families living on the breadline

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