Tackling in-work poverty

Issue 134 (Autumn 2009)

A few years ago, the concept of ‘in-work poverty’ was relatively unheard of. When the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) first report on the subject was published in early 2007, the simple statistic that nearly half of all poor children lived in working families was enough to make headlines in nearly every national newspaper. Since then, further work by IPPR, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and others has pushed in-work poverty up the agenda and it is now firmly recognised as a key piece in the poverty puzzle. In fact, it has become almost cliché to question the rhetoric that work is the best route out of poverty. To be sure, it still is – but we also know that it has failed for too many people and that the Government has done too little to address this. Kayte Lawton argues that the current recession provides an opportunity to rebuild a labour market that not only gets people into work, but which delivers fair pay and a real route out of poverty.