THE WORST FIVE YEARS FOR STRUGGLING FAMILIES

donal hirschA decade of progress in reducing family deprivation is being steadily unwound, says Donald Hirsch.

In 2008, with our Minimum Income Standards research, the news for low-income families was grim, but not hopeless. We found that ‘safety-net’ benefits did not provide a basic living standard for parents who had lost their jobs, but required their families to live at a third below what the public thought you need for an acceptable life. But this was better than for those without children, who got less than half.

And while a minimum wage was also insufficient to bring families above this level, it was not too far below – about £1 extra an hour was needed. Since this was still a time when family benefits, in and out of work, were becoming generous, many low-income families were within touching distance of being able to make ends meet: to provide their children with the necessities of life without going into disastrous debt.

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Child poverty

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