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Poverty Report: Hard Work Is Not Paying Off

For the first time, there are more people in working families living below the poverty line (6.7 million) than in workless and retired families combined (6.3 million), a report has found.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that almost 13 million Britons are now living in poverty, having suffered a "sustained" and "unprecedented" fall in their living standards.

The social policy research charity found people remaining in poverty despite moving in and out of work, with some facing "very severe hardship".

At the same time the study finds that the support on offer to people who fall on hard times is "increasingly threadbare".

The report found that job insecurity is common for millions of people, with one in six of the workforce claiming Jobseekers' Allowance at some point in the last two years.

There have also been big shifts in terms of which groups are experiencing poverty: the largest group in poverty are working age adults without dependent children - 4.7 million people are in this situation, the highest on record. Pensioner poverty is at its lowest level for 30 years.

Not all of the findings are negative. There has been an improvement in the labour market with falling unemployment and underemployment, and, over the longer term, improvements in health and education outcomes.

Young adult unemployment has peaked at 21%, and unemployment among the whole population has begun to fall.

The number of people underemployed - ether unemployed, economically inactive and wanting work or working part time but wanting a full time job - fell by 100,000 over the last year.

One of the author's of the report, Dr Peter Kenway, told Sky News: "People are hard hit everywhere. It remains the case that young adults are on low incomes, but more than half of people who are low paid are above the age of 30.

"This is not a phenomenon of people who are at the start of their working lives. We've got people who are really hard-pressed and unable to progress."

Julia Unwin, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation's chief executive, added: "This research shows millions of people are moving in and out of work but rarely out of poverty.

"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."

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