Now people are poor in work – not just on the dole

Britain has experienced a catastrophic decade for pay.

Wages tanked in the wake of the financial crisis and, unlike in previous recessions, we’ve not had much of a recovery since.

As a result, average wages are still £13 a week lower in real terms than they were before Lehman Brothers collapsed.

Some of the pay squeeze is down to an economy that has struggled to grow and become more productive.

But it is also a result of government policy, with public sector workers having faced years of pay caps and freezes since 2010.

This research lays out the shocking impact of these real-terms pay cuts, with probation officers, paramedics and other health professionals among the hardest hit in their pay packets in recent years. Of course, it’s not all bad news. The lowest paid have benefitted from big rises in the minimum wage, particularly since 2016.

Even more importantly, record numbers of people are in work and the number of workless households has fallen to an all-time low.

But looking at all aspects that make up family finances – work, pay, taxes and benefits – post-crisis Britain has been pretty disastrous for living standards.

And the coming years don’t look great either. The outlook for pay is weak.

Changes to the world of work mean fewer people work nine to five. Variable hours, self-employment and agency work are all more common. The result is that fluctuating pay is increasingly a problem.

For millions of low-income families, huge benefit cuts announced in 2015 by then Chancellor George Osborne have now started to take effect.

Worklessness is no longer the big problem it once was.

But poverty hasn’t gone away – instead it’s moving into the workplace.

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