More than one million children of key workers living in poverty - report

14 July 2021, 08:31 | Updated: 14 July 2021, 08:38

A report by the TUC has found more than one million children of key workers are living in poverty
A report by the TUC has found more than one million children of key workers are living in poverty. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

More than one million children of key workers are living in poverty, according to a new report by the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

Low pay and insecure hours in occupations such as care work, delivery driving and supermarket work, as well as high housing costs, are the main drivers behind the problem, the report suggests.

"Every key worker deserves a decent standard of living for their family but too often their hard work is not paying off like it should and they struggle to keep up with the basic costs of family life,” said TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady.

"The prime minister has promised to 'build back fairer'. He should start with our key workers. They put themselves in harm's way to keep the country going through the pandemic."

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Ms O’Grady said paying key workers more was not “just about doing the right thing” by them, but would also be a way of boosting the economy.

"If we put more money in the pockets of working families, their spending will help our businesses and high streets recover. It's the fuel in the tank that our economy needs."

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The research was conducted by Landsman Economics using information from the Labour Force Survey and Family Resource Survey for 2019/20 to calculate the number of children in key worker households and how many of those households are in poverty.

All figures are based on household income after housing costs.

The research suggested that in the North East and London more than a quarter of children in key worker households are living in poverty, something which is only likely to get worse with the cap in pay rises for public sector workers and the decision not to keep the £20 a week uplift in Universal Credit.

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Jonathan Reynolds, shadow secretary of state for work and pensions, said: "Under this Government, millions of children are growing up in poverty, the vast majority in working families.

“A basic principle of our economy has to be that people are paid a fair wage they can raise their family on.

"It is shameful that the very workers who got us through this crisis are in the firing line when it comes to poor pay and cuts to Universal Credit.

“The Government must immediately stop their cut to Universal Credit which will take £1,000 a year from millions of working families."

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Director of policy and campaigns at Action for Children, Imran Hussain, said: "Cuts to essential top-ups for low wages have left working parents struggling to meet their children's basic needs.

"Three-quarters of children in poverty are in working families.

"Key workers care for the most vulnerable in our society and keep food on our supermarket shelves, they deserve better.

"These families desperately need the Government's help to recover from the pandemic and stabilise their budgets in the longer term."

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A Government spokesperson said: "We are committed to making sure every child gets the best start in life, and this is central to our efforts to level up opportunity across the country.

"Children in households where every adult is working are around five times less likely to be in poverty than households where nobody works.

"That is why our multibillion-pound Plan for Jobs is vital, as it helps people improve their skills and move forward in their working life as we build back better."

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