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

Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United player ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Nemanja Matic holds the Capital One Cup with Branislav Ivanovic on Sunday
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th-century cartographer created the atlas
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

    Ashdown Group: Graduate Application Support Analyst

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

    Reach Volunteering: External Finance Trustee Needed!

    Voluntary post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Would you ...

    Christine McCleave: FP&A Analyst

    £36,000 - £40,000: Christine McCleave: Are you looking for a new opportunity a...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

    £15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot