Working hard(ship)

An exploration of poverty, work and tenure

This report explores the nexus between poverty, work and housing, and adds to our knowledge of the topic in two distinctive ways. First, we look at in-work poverty not just as a static but also a dynamic condition. Second, we explore the intersection between housing tenure and in-work poverty. In particular, we focus on the fortunes of social renters, drawing on a collaboration with Clarion Housing Group.

We find that across the board, moving into work has a strong downward effect on poverty rates, belying the claim that work does not pay. But in-work poverty is a condition that can be hard to escape, with many moving move in and out of in-work poverty over time. This matters a great deal for social renters who – with fewer second earners, lower pay and marginally shorter hours than those living in other tenures – have a higher in-work poverty risk. We show how low earning families of all tenures have been affected by benefit cuts in recent years.

In-work poverty is a live policy concern and with public opinion strongly of the view that work and poverty should not go hand-in-hand, there is plenty of reason to act. We set out a number of recommendations for policy makers to consider if they wish to ensure the lives of large numbers of working families are no longer blighted by poverty.