MORE YOUNG people are living in poverty than those aged over 65 as a lack of well-paid jobs and affordable homes is making it harder to build a secure future, according to a new report.
A study for the York-based Joseph Rowntree Foundation also found that young people were four times more likely to be unemployed than the working age population as a whole.
The next generation is facing worse life chances than their parents, the report concluded.
The foundation’s annual state-of-the-nation report found that 400,000 more young people aged between 16 and 24 were living in poverty than a decade ago.
The report, written by the New Policy Institute, showed that 13 million people were living in poverty after housing costs - the same number as a decade ago.
JRF’s chief executive, Julia Unwin, said the report shows fundamental shifts in the causes of poverty and which groups are at greatest risk. It highlights that a lack of well-paid jobs, genuinely affordable homes and opportunities to get on at work or in education is making it harder for people to build a secure future.
Finding a job is not a reliable route out of poverty, as half of those below the poverty line live in a household with at least one adult in work, the study found.
Julia Unwin 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.
“The 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 work together if we are to eradicate poverty once and for all.”
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.”
A Government spokesman said: “The truth is, the percentage of people in the UK in relative poverty is at its lowest since the mid 80s. Youth unemployment is at its lowest level since early 2006 and we know that work is the best route out of poverty.
“That’s why the Government is increasing work incentives by committing to three million more apprenticeships, extending free childcare, boosting earnings through a new national living wage and ensuring people keep more of what they earn by increasing the personal allowance.”
Shadow work and pensions secretary Owen Smith 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 seven 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.”