The number of young people living in poverty in the UK has rocketed by 400,000 in the last ten years, according to a damning new report published today.
Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) shows that young people are facing worse life chances than their parents, with more people aged 16-24 living in poverty than those aged 65 and over.
There are a total of 13million people living in poverty after housing costs, which is roughly unchanged on a decade ago but helped largely by a fall of 600,000 in the number of older people in poverty – the largest fall of any age group.
JRF says there have been “fundamental shifts in the causes of poverty”, highlighting a lack in affordable homes and poor opportunities for young people to advance in education or at work.
The JRF’s annual state of the nation report, which monitors poverty and social exclusion, reveals that young people are four times more likely to be unemployed than the rest of the working-age population. 16 per cent of under 25’s are unemployed, compared to just 4 per cent of the workforce as a whole.
Julia Unwin, Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “The next generation is being condemned to a worse set of circumstances in which to live, work and raise a family.
“This year’s report reveals that a large proportion of young people are being locked out of the opportunities they need to build a secure future – a secure home, a job that pays the bills and the chance to get on in life.
“A welcome fall in the number of pensioners living in poverty, thanks partly to direct action from the Government, shows that this is a problem which can be solved.
“We need to see the same commitment to tackling the drivers of poverty among younger people, including low pay, unaffordable housing and difficulties entering into and progressing at work.
“There is an important role for businesses, employers, and local leaders, who must to work together if we are to eradicate poverty once and for all.”
The report also finds that:
- There are 3.7 million children living in poverty in the UK today, the same number as ten years ago.
- The proportion of households with no working adult is at a record low, with 16 per cent of working-age households having no adult in work.
- Finding a job is not a guaranteed route out of poverty, with 51 per cent of those below the poverty line living in a household with at least one adult in work.
- The number of children in poverty living in the private rented sector has doubled in the last decade and now stands at 1.3m.
- A third of children on free school meals achieved five good GCSEs, compared to two-thirds of all children.
- There are now 53,000 homeless households in the UK, 13,000 more than five years ago.
- The proportion of people living in poverty in the private rented sector has nearly doubled over the last 10 years to 4.2 million.
- The numbers living in poverty in other housing sectors have fallen, to 4.4 million in the socially rented sector and 4.1 million owner occupiers.
Tom MacInnes, co-author of the report said: “The report shows some good news – unemployment has fallen, as has underemployment. The proportion of people in workless households is the lowest for at least 20 years.
“But while the labour market has been strong, the housing market is an increasing source of problems – rising homelessness, rising evictions, increasing numbers of families housed in temporary accommodation.
“Most of these problems emanate from the private rented sector, where a growing number of people in poverty, including over 1 million children, now live. This is the sharp end of the housing crisis.
“Increasing the supply of secure, affordable homes across all tenures, is essential to eliminating poverty in the UK”.
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Owen Smith MP said: “A job should offer everyone a route out of poverty, yet these figures show more than half of families below the poverty line have at least one adult in work.
“While the prospects look ever worse for young people, with 1.7 million left struggling in poverty right at the start of their adult lives.
“For all their bluster and spin, in work poverty is rocketing on this government’s watch. There are now almost 7 million working families in poverty. So it is a gross insult that the Tories are planning yet more cuts to the support working families rely on like tax credits, universal credit or housing benefit.
“The Tories have never shown themselves to be a friend of workers or young people. The Autumn Statement will be a chance to change course, but I’m afraid it’s one they’re unlikely to take.”