“When the recession hit, my business was badly affected and my income dramatically dropped. Money for my rent and bills became hard to find and the situation started to get on top of me.
I took on a second job and started cutting back on food but my debts kept mounting. I felt really desperate and couldn’t see any way out.” Ian
As a national charity helping people in financial need, we hear from thousands of people like Ian every day – people who are in work yet are struggling to make ends meet.
The latest national figures show that over half of the 13 million people living in poverty in the UK are now from working households. Part of this problem is connected to underemployment. According to ONS, there are currently 1.4 million people who are working part-time yet want to be in full-time employment – 46,000 higher than a year ago.
Making the situation even worse is the fact that real wages have fallen over 2% per year since 2010, and with the cost of living continuing to climb, working households are struggling to survive.
Our own latest research echoes these findings. Almost three-fifths (57%) of working households told us that their financial situation has worsened in the last year, with nearly two in five (39%) saying their outgoings now outweigh their earnings.
Sadly, as a result of their situation, over two-fifths (43%) have been forced to cut back on food and other essentials, almost a third (30%) have been unable to sleep and over a quarter (27%) have experienced depression.
We’ve also uncovered that working households may be less aware of the welfare benefits and tax credits available to help them. Despite being on a low income, a huge 60% have not checked, or do not know how to check their eligibility for this support.
That’s why we’re focusing our 2014 Benefits Awareness Month on helping the growing numbers of working people in financial need. We’re encouraging people to take ten minutes out of their day to use our free Benefits Calculator and check what financial support they could be entitled to.
Our website also features information on the support available for different employment groups including full-time, part-time, self-employed, zero hour contract and long-term leave.
Through finding Turn2us, Ian managed to make a successful claim for Working Tax Credit and Child Benefit at a total of around £140 per month. He says although his finances are still tight, he feels he is coping much better with this extra income.
85% of the working households we surveyed who currently claim say benefits have had a positive impact on their lives, helping with housing costs, bills and avoiding debt. We hope that through our campaign we can help many more people who are struggling to access the financial help available to them.
Our ‘Be Aware’ campaign, which runs until 16 May, is being supported by a number of charities and organisations across the UK including Help Musicians UK. For more information, please visit the Be Aware section of our website.