The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has released a report which states that poverty levels in the UK have risen.
The report states: The rise is being driven by the UK’s housing crisis, particularly high costs and insecurity in the private rented sector (PRS).
Yet the report itself is not so clear. It is correct to highlight housing problems yet does not fully explore the wider issues of demand – high population growth for example. Then there is the issue of housing being used for investment purposes and holiday homes.
Income inequalities and population growth are major factors influencing housing problems for the poor. Simply building more houses in itself will not solve the problem. We have tried it in Cornwall, it does not work!
To reduce poverty, JRF is calling for the Government to:
Reverse cuts to the Work Allowance, which currently mean that many families will be considerably worse off even after changes to the income tax threshold and Universal Credit taper are taken into account. A lone parent with two children working on the National Living Wage (NLW) will be £2,600 worse off, while a family of four with both parents in work on the NLW will be almost £1,000 worse off.
End the freeze on working-age benefits so that they can rise in line with inflation. The OBR predicts that inflation will rise to above 2% next year, putting pressure on the budgets of low income families if they do not see similar increases in wages and the value of social security.
Make sure that people in low-paid work feel the benefits of action to solve the UK’s productivity crisis by extending plans to include low-wage sectors like retail, hospitality and care. These account for 24% of UK jobs but for a third of the productivity gap with other European countries and a targeted plan to support these sectors is vital to closing the gap and raising wages.
Build on welcome action to cut costs for renters and build more homes by investing £1.1 billion extra a year in affordable housing through a Living Rents scheme. This would deliver 80,0000 genuinely affordable homes each year, link social rents to local wages, making them genuinely affordable to people earning the National Living Wage, and cut the Housing Benefit bill in the long term.
Support regional growth by earmarking at least an equivalent level of funding to the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) to create a Rebalancing Fund. Leaving the EU creates an opportunity to design a regional policy that responds to local priorities and opportunities.