THE PROPORTION of households in the UK where no-one is working is at its lowest point for over 20 years, the Office for National Statistics said yesterday, indicating that 800,000 have been driven into low paid jobs on zero hours contracts.
The figures show 14.3% of households containing working-age adults are ‘workless’ – down 0.2% compared with the same point last year. However, poverty campaigners have highlighted that it is the quality of job that counts, pointing to the fact that tens of thousands of families are stuck in extremely low-paid work which is often means zero hours contracts.
They have warned that most children living in poverty are now in families where at least one parent is working. Child Poverty Action Group said that after housing costs are taken into account, 30% of children are living in poverty for the second year running.
This is an increase from four million to 4.1 million. 67% of poor children are in working families. The Resolution Foundation produced a report which showed that workers are worse off by more than £50 a month compared with a decade ago.
There are 32.39 million in work – 2.1 million more than at the time of the 2008 financial crash – with the poorest third of households accounting for half of the increase. However, wages are £13 a week lower in real terms than 2008.
The Resolution Foundation’s chief economic analyst, Stephen Clarke, said: ‘Britain is in the midst of a long and painful pay squeeze.’ He said that about 800,000 workers are on zero hours contracts. Responding to that report TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘The government is turning a blind eye to Britain’s living standards crisis – ministers must get wages rising faster now.’