A new survey commissioned by the national charity Turn2us has found that almost three-fifths (59 per cent) of low income working households in the East Midlands feel their financial situation has worsened in the last year.
Despite signs of an improving economy, more than half (53 per cent) of those surveyed in this region are worried about their financial situation as they struggle with a combination of falling wages, shorter working hours and rising living costs.
The survey, released to coincide with Turn2us’ annual Benefits Awareness Month, has found that on average, working households in the East Midlands are forced to spend almost half of their monthly income on utility bills and food. Worryingly, more than a third (34 per cent) say their outgoings now outweigh their earnings.
Households are also facing barriers as they try to improve their situation. With 1.4 million in part-time jobs nationally – 46,000 higher than a year ago – three-fifths (60 per cent) in this area say they want to work more hours but they cannot get the work. While a quarter (25 per cent) of those surveyed have seen a fall in their income in the last year.
More than half of the 13 million people living in poverty in the UK are now from working households.
Turn2us’ research found that almost three-fifths (58 per cent) in the East Midlands are not claiming the benefits and tax credits they may be entitled to.
In response to these ongoing problems, Turn2us Benefits Awareness Month is focusing on the huge numbers of people who are in work yet struggling to make ends meet.
The campaign, ‘Be Aware’, is encouraging everyone to check what financial support could be available by using Turn2us’ free, online Benefits Calculator at www.turn2us.org.uk/BeAware.
The website also features information on support for different employment groups, so that people can access further help, whether they are employed full-time or part-time, self-employed, on zero contracts, or on leave.
Alison Taylor, Director of Turn2us said: “Turn2us launches Benefits Awareness Month revealing the extent to which working households are struggling in poverty. Our research shows that the stranglehold on pay, underemployment and the climbing cost of living all show no signs of easing and any economic improvements are failing to reach the UK’s poorest people. It’s clear that more needs to be done to combat poverty, especially for those people in work.
“Help is available in the form of Working Tax Credit and other welfare benefits and it can make a huge difference. We found that 85% of current claimants in work said benefits have had a positive impact on their lives and helped with housing costs, bills and even avoiding debt. The Turn2us ‘Be Aware’ campaign brings together our free Benefits Calculator and information so others can access this vital support.
“Our message is clear. Being in work does not mean the end of help. We want everyone to know they are not alone and to ‘Be Aware’ of the support that is available.”
The ‘Be Aware’ campaign is being supported by charities and organisations across the UK to help increase awareness of the support available for people struggling in work on low incomes.