Two Parent Families On The Living Wage Still Can’t Afford An ‘Acceptable’ Standard Of Living

Families are falling short of providing what the public deem an 'acceptable, no frills' lifestyle...


by Georgia Aspinall |
Published on

When the government combined benefits into universal credit, froze tax credits and introduced the bedroom tax, charities warned of the harm it would do to low-income families. Undeterred, the measures we’re taken and now, couples with two children and single parents who work full-time on minimum wage are unable to provide an acceptable standard of living for their family.

According to a report by The Child Poverty Action Group released yesterday, every week single parents on a national living wage fall 20% short of providing what the public consider an ‘acceptable, no-frills’ living standard. ‘For lone parents, even a reasonably paid job (on median earnings) will leave them 15% (£56 per week) short of an adequate income because of the high cost of childcare,’ reads the study.

The research also showed an 11% shortfall in two-parent households, even when they are both on the national living wage. In monetary terms, this means they having £49 less per week to provide for their family, despite both being in full-time work.

‘A combination of rising prices, benefits and tax credits freezes, the introduction of the benefit cap and two-child limit, the bedroom tax, cuts to housing benefits and the rolling out of universal credit have hit family budgets hard,’ the Cost of a Child study reads, ‘Life has been getting progressively tougher for families on low or modest incomes over the past ten years, with families on in-work and out-of-work benefits hardest hit.’

In order to rectify this, the CPAG is calling for an increase in national living wage. Despite it being raised earlier this year, in what was the highest pay increase for the lowest paid in 20 years, it still fails to meet necessary standards amongst the higher cost of living and childcare.

‘There is strong public support for the government topping up the wages of low-paid parents,’ Alison Garnham, chief executive of the CPAG told The Guardian, ‘and investing in children is the best long-term investment we can make. By using the forthcoming budget to unfreeze benefits and restore work allowances, the government can take steps towards making work really pay.’

While employment rates are at record-highs and there are fewer people living in absolute poverty today, according to a government spokesperson, it’s clear that relative poverty is yet to be tackled in a way that supports families adequately.

The government response focusing on increasing employment and reducing absolute poverty is telling, because while getting people into work is important, it’s only useful if workers are actually being paid in a way that improves their living standards. Otherwise, they’re just another statistic to be rolled out in the next election campaign that shouts about ‘record highs’.

Is this ‘record-high’ employment and pay increase actually giving people acceptable living standards? No. So perhaps it’s time to, you know, actually pay people an adequate amount for the work they do? Just a thought.

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