UK government hits back against Joseph Rowntree Foundation's damning report

Jessica Morris
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The report found the labour market has “completely changed” (Source: Getty)

The UK government has hit back against a damning report published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, by arguing that the UK's relative poverty level is at its lowest since the mid-1980's.

It also said it will continue to focus on the long-term economic plan, through which the government aims to reduce the deficit, cut taxes create more jobs.

A government spokesperson said:

The percentage of people in the UK in relative poverty is at its lowest level since the mid-1980s and the number of households where no-one works is the lowest since records began.

The government's long-term economic plan is working to deliver the fastest growing economy in the G7, putting more people into work than ever before, and reducing the deficit by more than a third.

The only sustainable way to raise living standards is to keep working through the plan that is building a resilient economy and has enabled us to announce the first real terms increase in the minimum wage since the great recession

The report, produced by the Josepth Rowntree Foundation, found that there had been huge changes in the way people living in the UK are affected by poverty.

The proportion of young adults who are in poverty has jumped, the Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found. At the same time, the rate of pensioner poverty has significantly reduced.

In the 2012-13 financial year 34 per cent of 16 to 19 year-olds and 29 per cent of 20 to 24 year-olds were from low-income households. However, the rate for pensioners fell 11 per cent from ten years ago to 13 per cent.

The report, which was based on research by the New Policy Institute (NPI), found the labour market has “completely changed”. Employment rates are at historic highs but there's been a huge increase in insecure work.

There are around 1.4m so-called 'zero-hours contracts' – which do not provide workers a minimum number of hours – and there are mainly in lower-paying sectors such as food, accommodation and retail.

The link between unemployment and poverty has also being eroded, the report found.

In 2012-13 6.6 million people in working families were living in poverty, almost identical to the figure living in workless or retired families.

Julia Unwin, chief executive of JRF, said:

This year's report shows a real change in UK society over a relatively short period of time. We are concerned that the economic recovery we face will still have so many people living in poverty.

It is a risk, waste and cost we cannot afford: we will never reach our full economic potential with so many people struggling to make ends meet.

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