It’s tough for the low-paid but there is help available

Government support and charities do exist for working families living on a knife-edge

Personal finance editor

The average working household is now forced to spend half their monthly income on food and bills. Frighteningly,  half of the 13 million people now living in poverty in the UK are from working households.

It’s no wonder that three-fifths of low-income workers say their financial situation has worsened in the past year. The figures come from money charity Turn2us which today is launching Benefit Awareness Month to target the two-thirds of hard-up folk who are not claiming the benefits or tax credits they may be entitled to.

Alison Taylor, director of Turn2us said: “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. More needs to be done to combat poverty, especially for those people in work. But help is available in the form of working tax credit and other welfare benefits and it can make a huge difference.”

What more evidence is needed of how much tougher it’s getting for those workers on low incomes? According to the research, nearly two-fifths say their outgoings now outweigh their earnings. 

And it’s getting harder than ever for people to improve their situation. With an estimated  1.4 million people in part-time jobs across the country – a figure that’s climbed 46,000 in the past 12 months – almost three-fifths say that even though they want to work more hours, they simply cannot get the jobs.

Meanwhile, one in four people said that they had actually  experienced a fall in their  income over the past 12 months.

The figures come after a series of reports published in the past few days have shown that people are getting into deeper debt difficulties. Last week, debt charity StepChange revealed that some  15 million are falling behind on bills and using credit to pay for essential costs.

It said those on low and average incomes, families with children, people aged between 25 and 39 and those renting privately, have been worst hit.

The charity’s research also suggested that millions of households’ finances are so fragile that they are weeks away from falling into a spiral of debt. Some 13 million people do not have the savings to keep up with essentials for a month if their income were to drop by a quarter.

That bleak outlook was backed up on Monday by Shelter which said that nearly 4 million working families across the country are living on a financial knife-edge with no savings at all.

This means that if they lost their job they could not afford to pay their rent or mortgage for more than a month.

In short, being pushed out of work through sickness or redundancy could quickly lead to them losing their home.  

Liz Clare, who is a helpline adviser at Shelter, said: “This research highlights the financial knife-edge that millions of us now find ourselves on – living month to month, pay cheque to pay cheque.

“Every day we see the proof that just one piece of bad luck, like a sudden job loss or illness, could tip any of us into a spiral that puts the family home at risk

“Sky-high housing costs and stagnating wages mean that saving is becoming a thing of the past,” she went on.

“Most of us simply don’t have enough money in the bank that we can rely on for long enough to get back on our feet. We need better government support to give families the short-term help they need to keep their homes if they fall on hard times.”

But according to Turn2us, there is government support – as well as that from charities – it’s just that a lot isn’t being claimed. This is partly out of pride because some people don’t want to take handouts or perhaps feel that they’ve maybe let their families down by doing so.

But it’s mainly because many simply aren’t aware of the financial help that is available. Swallowing pride or finding out about benefits or grants – and claiming them – can make a huge difference to those on a financial edge.

The charity says 85 per cent 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.

For instance, there are grants and schemes offering heating assistance – from help installing energy-efficiency measures to taking money directly off the bill. 

“Our message is simple,” says Alison Taylor. “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.”

For more information go to

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

    Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

    £70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

    Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

    £23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

    Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

    £13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

    Day In a Page

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific