In-work poverty is on the rise - which party would tackle it?

The number of people in work is at a near record high - a fact that, unsurprisingly, features prominently in the Conservative manifesto.

The problem is a job isn’t the way out of poverty that it once was.

Over the last 10 years, the number of people who are in-work but poor has risen to eight million.

Tracy Olin runs a food bank in Milford Haven that supports almost 200 people every week.

These are people who struggle to feed and clothe themselves, people who in some cases have jobs.

"It’s just gone crazy in the last few years.

"We’ve had people flooding in and we’ve no clear idea why," said Tracy, of Pembrokeshire Action To Combat Hardship (PATCH).

Head of PATCH charity, Tracy Olin, said more and more people are going to food banks. Credit: ITV News

She continued: "We’ve had many, many parents who will go without eating so their children can eat.

"That just shouldn’t happen. Fifty years ago that was happening, you don’t expect that now in 2019".

The economy of Milford Haven was built on fishing and petroleum.

The number of people in work here is relatively high by historical standards but pay growth over the last 10 years has been weak.

Over the last 20 years there’s been increase in earnings inequality and a big increase in housing costs, particularly for younger families who are renting.

All these things have combined to drag lower income households further behind the living standards of higher earners.

Sian Abbott's family still needs weekly support from a food bank. Credit: ITV News

Research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) suggests you are most likely to be in-work and poor if you are a single parent with children and live in social housing.

One way of raising living standards is by raising income.

Labour would to increase the minimum wage to £10/hour immediately for everyone over 16.

The Conservatives hope to lift it to 2/3 of median earnings, potentially reaching £10.50/hour in five years time, for everyone over the age of 21.

And the Liberal Democrats pledge to raise the minimum wage by 20%, to £9.85, for anyone over the age of 25 who has a zero hour contract.

Pledges from the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrats Parties. Credit: ITV News Graphics

Raising the minimum wage sounds like a good way of tackling in-work poverty but the impact is likely to be limited.

That’s because only one in five workers who earn the minimum wage are from poor households, and as their income rises the benefits they receive - whether in the form of tax credits or universal credit - are reduced.

Sian Abbott’s husband earns more than the minimum wage but the family still needs weekly support from a food bank.

One of the biggest problems Sian’s family faces is the rising cost of rent.

Sian’s landlord is the local authority.

She told ITV News: "We can’t afford a car, we can’t school uniform.

"We can’t even afford to buy the kids a chocolate bar."

"A bar of chocolate is 60p but 60p is a loaf of bread," she added.

One of the biggest problems Sian Abbott’s family faces is the rising cost of rent. Credit: ITV News

Labour has pledged to eliminate in-work poverty within five years.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies says that ambition is "not plausible".

It calculates if Labour tried to do that through the benefits system would require increases of tens of billions pounds a year.

"To eliminate in-work poverty requires big increases in the incomes of millions of people," says Paul Johnson, director of the IFS.

He added: "The Labour manifesto has a few billion for additional welfare benefits but only a fraction of what you would need to achieve this.

"In the long run you need people to have higher levels of skills and education and training, higher wages as well as a benefits system that’s supportive and a housing system which doesn’t charge excessive rents".

Labour and the Liberal Democrats are offering modest funding increases for working age benefits, enough the IFS says to "dampen" the rise in work poverty.

Under a Conservative government in-work poverty may continue to rise.

"There’s nothing in the Conservative manifesto really, so because some increases in benefits and cuts are coming down the line because of the roll out of universal credit, in-work poverty might increase a bit," Mr Johnson said.

He added: "In terms of the big picture and the policies we’ve got none of [the three main parties] are going to make an enourmous difference."

Back at Pembrokeshire Action To Combat Hardship the Christmas toy appeal has gone well.

The food bank hopes to have a enough to send presents to children from 400 families.

The community is providing what many parents can’t.