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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The desperate plight of the working poor laid bare.

The graph above shows the percentage of nearly five million households in receipt of Housing Benefit that contain someone with a full time job (red) and contain no one with a full time job (blue). In a very many of the blue cases, there will be people working some part time hours. Housing Benefit is paid to people who are too poor to pay their own rent. This might be because they either cannot find work or cannot earn enough. The blue line actually also includes pensioners and single mothers with toddlers. Based upon the 39 months from November 2008, I extrapolated the trends for both lines to carry the data right through to polling day 2015. It was possible to do this because can average out the trends in both categories over more than 3 years of data.

In lay speak the graph shows that the "poor" are not easily pigeon holed. They transcend all categories and this increasingly includes those who work full time. Millions of households by 2015 will contain a parent who works full time but cannot afford a roof over their head. I call these people the 'working poor' and I think they deserve special focus because they get lost in the debate about 'benefit scrounging'. In fact, it is perhaps fair to argue that the very existence of the working poor at all makes a mockery of the entire debate over the un/deserving poor. If a person on a full time wage cannot afford a roof over their head then clearly the fault does not lie with the poor but elsewhere.

The graph above shows that the proportion of the working poor as an composition of the overall number of poor is markedly on the rise. The gap between the proportion of working poor and the proportion of HB recipients that are not in full time work, will actually more or less half by polling day (from November 2008).

Logically, this increases the need for affordable rental properties. It also makes patently obvious the need for a living wage.

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