The Working Poor: Britain's families living on the breadline

The Working Poor: Britain's families living on the breadline



work is the best route to security and building yourself a better life work is the best route out of poverty work the route out the ladder up the key to escaping poverty it's a mantra repeated by successive governments of all political persuasions but increasing numbers of families are finding for them it's just not true I feel like I am failing her which scares me a lot when doing you're really struggling is it's depressing you feel worthless I would dare to be able to not feed my kids that's my biggest fear I would it to not be able to feed my kids childcare worker Vicki always dreamt of having a child of her own but it's been tough separated from her partner she initially had to rely on little village a local charity for things as basic as nappies and baby clothes no she worked 16 hours a week and with benefits her total income is sixteen hundred a month two-thirds of that spent on rent for this studio flat in London after childcare she says she's left with around 17 pounds a day a lot of stress a lot of worry and it can get quite emotional as well because you feel like you fail in your child yeah it just upsets me because I want to give her everything but when you have the struggle of money and knowing that if you don't have any what would you do I know like friends and stuff would help her I know I would have help but you want to do it as yourself as a mum a proud mum to give your child everything that they need single parents like Vicki are nearly twice as likely to be in poverty as those in two-parent families she says she'd like to work more hours but with childcare costs outweighing low wages she can't afford to but would you be better off not working I would be a majorly much better I wouldn't have to worry so much that I have to do it I want to basically be a role model for my daughter to be like you know my mommy can do it then I can do it as well just after this was filmed but he decided she can't do it anymore and is now giving up work for many years much of the political focus has been on getting people who are out of work back into employment as a way of combating poverty and broadly that's been working but at the same time a different problem has taken center stage the number of people in poverty who are in working households has risen significantly according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies 57% of people living in poverty are in households where at least one person is in work and that's a huge challenge for the government in Hartlepool Sammy Stewart often pops in to the local Children's Center they've helped her out on many occasions a hairdresser she's always worked now with two young sons to bring up on her own she does around 16 hours a week she says she couldn't even afford to do that if it wasn't for the patchwork of child care and financial support provided by her family and you ever have to ask them for help with money and food and things like that and probably yeah sometimes trying but yeah probably yeah probably as nine times that were ten until boy don't like ask him cuz you don't you don't want to really but yeah I don't and like I couldn't like obviously been there and been the good like parents and stuff that they are they do the dildo were that for you she kids you worry about isn't it's not me I'm bothered about it's the kids with the monthly wage of around 450 pounds she has to rely on benefits too she says the family were much better off under the old system of tax credits and that problems with the new Universal Credit had meant she and the boys have been left with around 50 pounds a week to live on when this come out I bawled my eyes out at it because I didn't think I was going to get by I cried and I cried and I cried and I was really really worried and like I was worried that I was going to feed my kids I was got a cloth and now I was gonna do everything paper roll for the ED and everything obviously I've got by with a good family and a good set of friends behind me so I think good that's stressful it is yeah Oh God really is but you get behind Anya in your manager for Keith Morris working more isn't really an option he's trying to set up his own business but struggling so he's currently working full-time as a labourer doing two evenings a week teaching children to swim families like Keith with only one earner I've seen their earnings fall consistently over the past 15 years Keith says the pressure of making ends meet is almost unbearable it's panic it's not knowing what you can do to finally find that money there have been times when it's hard to say this but whether or not to go on but I've got children and I've got got to provide from if I wasn't here he would fight for my wife and kids but it has reached that point on occasions on occasions I have has been thought in my mind there is extremely hard especially hard talking about it the sensory light helps daughter Amelia who has autism disability benefits take the family's income up to around two thousand pounds a month each but with almost half of that spent on housing costs Heath says he feels they're just going backwards his dreams will they're pretty modest are there things that you would love to be able to buy I'd love to be able to go out to a restaurant with my wife take her out for a meal I'd love to be able to take my kids on a holiday I can't without knowing that I'm not being paid for that week and now I'm going to be spending maybe two three four weeks money it's hard although earnings are beginning to rise for millions squeezed by a decade of non-existent wage growth and tightening benefits it's still hard to be optimistic what to do for those families who work but still can't seem to make that work pay Jackie long reporting well in response a government spokesman said the reality is there are now 1 million fewer people living in absolute poverty compared with 2010 including 300,000 fewer children under universal credit taking on extra hours will always pay and people keep more of their hard-earned money rather than facing the benefits cliff edge that happened in the past well I'm joined now by Edie Boyd from the right-of-center think-tank the Center for social justice and by Laura Payne who's from the anti-poverty charity for in 10 so was the previous welfare system any better previous to this government yes there was a system of tax credits that supported people when they were earning a very low income that's best generous now would you agree not quite and I don't think it's a simple case Universal Credit has got one thing that is way better than the old system which is under the old system let's take the case of being say a single parent with two kids working 60 and a minimum-wage job if every pound that you want to earn above that level you got to keep 4 pence that's how much it disincentivize work and people kind of moving on that said no we've been campaigning for the government to put more money into universal credit after Osborne's 12 billion that came out a few years back putting that back in would make sure universal credit was fully funded and it's got the kind of incentives in place to make sure that people are properly encouraged to take on more work and they get to keep more but their money when that they do so I think it's better than the old system but it could be a lot better if that money was put back in do you agree with that yeah as it stands now it's less generous and you've argued yourself for the work allowance to be raised because at the moment it isn't sufficient and with the rollout of universal credit we've had families where it's been rolled out in London experiencing more rent arrears and risk of homelessness as a result of the destitution that's caused by isn't the biggest problem the slowness of take-up I mean that that in fact the process of actually getting into the Universal Credit System for any individual family is actually not immediate there have been yeah there's really long wait involved which obviously when you're already living with nothing how how do you then survive for another few weeks with zero income so yeah there are problems with that the government will say that it's listening because it has reduced that waiting time I think what the videos are showing is that where the families are working they're still really struggling despite trying their hardest and that's what we've got to tackle the fact that you can be in work and not earn enough to raise a family and that's not okay well it is exactly that point that provoked the department to try and rectify things but the truth is that at is exactly what we found and it's illustrated very well by those families in the film yeah didn't see them in the fields interests know where they were on the old system or the new system of universal credit the majority of people are still on the old system and therefore subject to a lot of the old rules one of the things that's rarely talked about as path to this as well is that under the old system the job of government was to shove somebody into work doesn't matter what work these were people on the new system and they were all in really impoverished circumstance yeah and I think that's not good absolutely you know I think that there is an issue of him work poverty that's you know getting away from it it's not suggest as well that there's a even bigger issue out of work poverty that still exists in this country however Universal Credit helps that doesn't solve it overnight government welfare systems can't change every situation and everyone's problem you need businesses to create good jobs exactly that's exactly what the government said they said it would transform this thing I think this was for great by itself the great elixir of benefit systems I think I think it's a far better benefit system than the old one the idea that it's perfect I think is far-fetched no welfare system across the Western Hemisphere will ever be perfect however it's a huge improvement on the last one because you incentivize people to work you let people keep more of their money and I think it's not what it was illustrated in the report is it I mean what we saw was people suffering and yet employed yeah and we know that child poverty is rising so this isn't really a solution that's going to work unless there's more money invested in it you know we're seeing food banks popping up and charities in our network that are stepping in to give young girls sanitary products because without them they'll miss out on school you know we're talking about symptoms of a really desperate situation and these are not solutions in themselves the truth is you want a society where if people are in work they get paid enough to live on and raise a family and if they fall in desperate times you want a safety net that pushes them back onto their feet not one that pushes them further into crisis let's look at Vicki Jones who was one of the specific individuals in that film she decided frankly that the margin between being on benefits and working was so small that it wasn't worth her continuing to work and so she took the benefits which are then at least allowed her to be with her children I mean that's a crazy situation that is a crazy situation it's far more the case that if you are on the old benefit system it paid to be out of where it paid not to even be looking for work well you're still doesn't pay to be in work by the look of it under the new system we would like more money to be investing we can all agree on that but you know 37 became is forever we have a new system we have a new system and it's not properly funded and as a result although it may be brilliant it doesn't work I think you've told us yourself it's not properly funded and absolutely I'd put more money into it to make it more effective but the idea that it is worse than the old system of places as far fetch given how almost a mole elements the old cents I would I leave out the old system in this this particular moment the big thing is that you from essentially a Center that sees reasonably eye-to-eye with the government doesn't believe it's been properly funded how much money would it take and put it right um so it's about three billion or so a year we think that we believe they should put back into the system we suggest funded by freezing the personal allowances increases that the government have scheduled in in order to make sure that the system works even more effectively it's something that should go along side it though which is often missed in this debate is the new system so just shoving someone into a job and saying we hope that will work okay and not wearing what the job is or how well it's paid what the new system allows first time is a huge amount of support for those people to progress in that work so if this is going to be successful over the coming years the government will invest in charities and doing things personally to actually help people to progress in work to earn more money and to get a better job well that's gonna be a key part of it let's see if we can get agreement on one thing is a single benefit a great idea I think a simpler system that is designed to be easier for recipients is a good idea but it needs to be properly funded it says it needs another three billion is that sort of figure that you're working on well I mean one wouldn't know but what is figures are in the end comfortable but but clearly it's not adequately funded absolutely would it work if it was it could do but as you were saying about the personalized support that people need to progress in work that's important as well so the research that we have done recently with young parents who are living in poverty in London trying to raise a family on a low income they're pushed into insecure low paid jobs you