MINIMUM wage workers and benefit claimants are suffering much lower standards of living than before the recession, poverty researchers confirmed yesterday.
Due to near-zero inflation, this year has been the first since the bankers’ crash of 2008 that the basic cost of living has not risen.
Single parents of one child who receive benefits need £117 extra per week to make ends meet and put food on the table compared to being £74 short seven years ago.
Couples with two children are lacking £196 per week compared to £148 in 2008.
And single, childless claimants are short £109 compared to £100.
“We need to see action to raise wages, build more genuinely affordable homes and tackle the UK’s low productivity to help people get on at work,” said poverty research group Joseph Rowntree Foundation chief executive Julia Unwin.
According to the foundation, the value of benefits has dropped due to the cost of goods and services rising by 29 per cent since the beginning of the financial slump.
Out-of-work benefits, child benefit and tax credits have increased by a fraction of that figure.
But the Conservative Party’s planned £12 billion cuts in welfare could threaten the quality of life for claimants, as essentials are priced further out of their reach in real terms, and could push low-paid workers onto top-up benefits.
Single people with no children now need an annual minimum income of £17,100 to meet basic needs.
Couples with two children need at least £20,000 each and a single parent of one child would need a salary of £26,700.
Loughborough University’s Donald Hirsch, who wrote the research report, said: “Even though earnings are forecast to grow healthily in the next few years, rising prices will prevent low earners from becoming better off if their tax credits are frozen — and more so if threats to cut them are implemented in the forthcoming Budget.”
TUC leader Frances O’Grady said: “This report reveals the living standards crisis is far from over. Wages have fallen in real terms, with vital benefits reduced and public services scaled back. Too many of those in work cannot afford an acceptable standard of living.”