1. ITV Report

Government to outline plans to get people back to work

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

An increase in the minimum wage is required to protect low-income workers from a "perfect storm" of benefit cuts, rising living standards and a lack of jobs, a charity has said.

Oxfam has called for the rise as part of a package of measures ahead of today's publication of official figures which they predicted would show an increase in the number of working people in poverty.

  • Six in every 10 of the 7.9 million working-age adults in poverty are not from jobless households.
  • Thousands more than last year are turning to food banks and other charity facilities, as average earnings have shrunk 4.4%.
  • There are an estimated 2 million vulnerable workers; people whose work is characterised by insecurity, uncertainty over hours and low pay.
  • A tightening of the eligibility rules for working tax credits also means that the average qualifying family is expected to lose £2,000 per year.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith will today insist the Government remains committed to a Labour target - enshrined in law - to eliminate child poverty by 2020.

But with new figures tipped to show an interim aim of halving it by 2010 has been missed, he will say the present income-based measure wrongly encouraged Labour to massively increase state help.

Defending efforts to slash billions from benefits, he will call for experts to come forward with other factors to be considered in deciding how many young people are below the breadline.

And he will present figures suggesting the "vast majority" will be pulled out of poverty thanks to the new Universal Benefit if at least one parent works 35 hours a week at the minimum wage.

Despite the Government's rhetoric about making work pay, having a job is no longer necessarily enough to lift someone out of poverty.

"More working-age adults in poverty now live in working households than in workless ones.

"We need to see income being distributed more fairly if we are to make any impact on reducing levels of poverty.

"If we carry on down this path, the UK will return to levels of inequality not seen since Victorian times."

– Oxfam's director of UK poverty Chris Johnes