Eliminating in-work poverty must be ‘number one priority’ after Brexit

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation calls on politicians to make a firm commitment to end poverty for working families.

Campaigners have urged politicians from all parties to make ending poverty for working families their number one focus after Brexit.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) was responding to Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s commitment to eliminating in-work poverty under Labour over the course of a parliament.

Claire Ainsley, executive director of JRF, said: “It’s unacceptable that more working families are being swept into poverty, so this significant ambition to eliminate in-work poverty is the right thing to do.

We can bring the country back together and ensure everyone has the opportunity to build a better life.

“With more working families unable to make ends meet, people are frustrated at the failure of politics to unlock the jobs, investment and opportunities needed so their families and local economies can thrive.”

JRF research published this week has revealed low-income families feel as negatively about their economic prospects as “during the 1992 and 2008 recessions”. The majority involved in the survey said their economic concerns would drive how they vote in an election.

The research also showed that not only are low-income voters more likely to vote now than before, they have also become less attached to tribal party allegiances. More than 50 per cent of voters from poor families changed whether or not they voted, or changed which party they supported, in the period from 2010-2017.

Claire Ainsley added: “This underlines the need for political parties to seize this agenda and set out comprehensive plans to improve living standards, tackle the cost of living and support struggling towns and cities.”

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She added: “Delivering this commitment should be the number one focus for political leaders after Brexit. That way we can bring the country back together and ensure everyone has the opportunity to build a better life.”

During a speech on Wednesday Mr McDonnell said implementing a real living wage, making public services free at the point of use and ending the roll-out of Universal Credit would create a “structurally different economy”. The Conservatives responded by saying that the proposals would hit the very people Labour want to help the hardest.