Laura Sharman 07 February 2020

Government fails to 'break the grip of poverty'

Poverty has risen for children and pensioners in the past five years despite efforts to ‘level up’ Britain, new research has revealed.

A report published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) also shows that in-work poverty has also increased from 39% 20 years ago to 56% today.

The annual state of the nation report identified regional differences in poverty rates, with London, the North of England, Midlands and Wales having the highest levels of poverty.

The main drivers of poverty are the availability of good-quality jobs and housing costs, it said.

Claire Ainsley, executive director of the JRF, said: ‘Without a better deal for working families, and a social security system that provides a public service for all of us, the UK faces further division and deeper poverty. That better deal needs to encompass the basics we all need – from building new homes to funding social security and bringing better jobs to all parts of the country.

‘If the next decade is to see true levelling up it will be because we have broken the grip of poverty and unlocked the UK’s potential, not because we invested in eye-catching schemes. As a nation we have made progress before and we can and must do so again with this new government and a new settlement after Brexit.’

JRF is calling on the Government to improve job security and quality, see the benefits system as an essential public service that loosens the grip of poverty, and help make more low-cost housing available.

Cllr Richard Watts, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Resources Board, said: 'Councils understand the challenges and opportunities of their communities best and want every resident to have a good quality of life and to be able to improve their circumstances regardless of their background or where they live.

'With the right funding and flexibilities, councils can better support low-income and disadvantaged households, lift thousands out of poverty and help the Government realise its commitment to level up communities across the country. '

Cllr Muhammed Butt, London Councils’ executive member for welfare, empowerment and inclusion, said: 'The Government is making positive noises about levelling up the country but needs to boost support for deprived communities everywhere – including the capital.

'Without question, public services and poverty reduction programmes across the whole country urgently need adequate funding. Councils should be given strengthened powers and resources so that we can improve local support and make much faster progress in bringing poverty rates down.'

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