Working for poverty – Commission report

Spiralling living costs and stagnating wages are creating a 'double squeeze' on the lowest-paid groups in society, according to the interim report of a Commission that is examining the changing nature of low pay and poverty in the UK. It warns that the economic recovery could fail one in five people in paid employment.

The Living Wage Commission is an independent inquiry, bringing together leading figures from business, trade unions and civil society organisations, and chaired by the Archbishop of York.

Key findings

  • 5.24 million workers in Britain – equal to 21 per cent of the workforce – are paid below a 'living wage'. This is an increase of 420,000, or 9 per cent, over the last 12 months.
  • 6.7 million of the 13 million people in poverty in the UK are in a household where someone works – over half the total for the first time.
  • Housing costs have tripled in the last 15 years, one and a half times the amount by which wages have risen; and electricity, gas and water bills have risen by 88 per cent in the last five years.
  • 2.9 million people classed as over-indebted have a household income below £15,000 a year.
  • Low-paid workers are increasingly turning to outside support in order to get by. This includes a growing dependence on debt, food banks and in-work benefits.

The Commission is due to release its final report in June 2014.

SourceWorking for Poverty: The Scale of the Problem of Low Pay and Working Poverty in the UK, Living Wage Commission
LinksReport | Commission press release | TUC press release

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Publication date: 
Feb 10 2014