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  1. ITV Report

UK sees first sustained hike in child and OAP poverty for 20 years

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand

An additional 700,000 people in the UK are in poverty compared to four years ago, according to a Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) report.

This is the first sustained increase for 20 years, the report states, with 400,000 more children and 300,000 more pensioners now in poverty, leaving a total of 14 million people impoverished.

Rising housing costs, alongside higher food and energy bills, debts and an inability to contribute to a pension are some of the reasons behind the increase in figures.

Saturday saw the head of the Social Mobility Commission, Alan Milburn, resign, together with three other board members in response to the Governments failings when it comes to creating a "fairer Britain".

The Government have faced calls to bring an end to the four-year freeze on working age benefits and tax credits and spend on a greater housebuilding programme in order to provide affordable homes.

Alan Milburn quit over the weekend. Credit: PA

Campbell Robb, chief executive of the JRF, said: "These worrying figures suggest that we are at a turning point in our fight against poverty.

"Political choices, wage stagnation and economic uncertainty mean that hundreds of thousands more people are now struggling to make ends meet. This is a very real warning sign that our hard-fought progress is in peril.

"Action to tackle child and pensioner poverty has provided millions of families with better living standards and financial security.

"Record employment is not leading to lower poverty, changes to benefits and tax credits are reducing incomes and crippling costs are squeezing budgets to breaking point.

"The Budget offered little to ease the strain and put low income households' finances on a firmer footing.

"As we prepare to leave the EU, we have to make sure that our country and our economy works for everyone and doesn't leave even more people behind."

Rising food and heating bills. Credit: PA

The report said: "The prospects for solving UK poverty are worrying. The continuing rise in employment is no longer leading to lower poverty. Changes to benefits and tax credits for working-age families are reducing the incomes of many of those on low incomes.

"High housing costs continue to reduce the incomes available for those in poverty to meet other needs. Inflation is rising and is higher for those on lower incomes than for better-off groups. This squeeze on living standards is also storing up problems for the future.

"Most people on low incomes have no savings and are not building up a pension. The decreasing proportion of the working-age population buying their own home means that in the future more older people are likely to rent and have higher housing costs in retirement."