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British & Irish Residents
Millions of working families one push from penury, Guardian research finds -
June 18, 2012
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Almost seven million working-age adults are living in extreme financial stress, one small push from penury, despite being in employment and largely independent of state support, according to the most comprehensive study of the finances of employed households, commissioned by the Guardian. Unlike the "squeezed middle", these 3.6m British households have little or no savings, nor equity in their homes, and struggle at the end of each month to feed themselves and their children adequately. They say they are unable to cope on their current incomes and have no assets to fall back on, leaving them vulnerable to something as simple as an unexpectedly large fuel bill. The findings challenge the argument made by the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, who last week said parents should get a job to ensure their children are not brought up in poverty. "These figures are a mega-indictment on the mantra of both political parties, that work is the route out of poverty," said Frank Field, the Labour MP for Birkenhead and former welfare minister who is now the coalition's poverty csar. "What's shocking about this is that these are people who want to work and are working but who, despite putting their faith in the politicians' mantra, find themselves in another cul de sac. Recent welfare cuts and policy changes make it difficult to advise these people where they should turn to get out of it: it really is genuinely shocking." This group are "traditionally proud, self-reliant, working people," said Bruno Rost, head of Experian Public Sector, who used more than 400 different variables from their database and the government's own research to identify the face of At-Risk Britain. After removing households who fall into the most deprived categories from the research, Rost's team focused on those who are working but suffering high levels of financial stress. He also looked at respondents' attitudes, behaviour and outlook. "These are the new working class – except the work they...
Harsh reality. Tough situation to be in and difficult to escape. -
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