It seems incongruous that people who work and earn money for their family are at risk of falling into poverty. It also seems unjust that low wages, work contracts which are not flexible enough, and high childcare costs can have a disproportionally adverse effect on those who do not have the reserves to weather the storm.
And yet, this is the reality for many. Reading our latest report, Stealing futures: In-work poverty and its impact on children and young people, I was both reminded of the daily struggle facing many and of the need for our work, and why the SVP continues to serve and support people in need.
- Elizabeth Palmer, CEO St Vincent de Paul Society of England and Wales
The report points out that people experiencing in-work poverty often have other challenges in their lives, and it’s the cumulative effect of this which drags them down. While I am reluctant to single out any group for special focus, at this time of year we are very mindful of the impact of poverty on children and young people. This report draws on our frontline experiences and tells stories of children and young people suffering poor mental health, anxiety about their future, and genuine fear for their family’s welfare. The report’s title, Stealing futures, points to a sad truth; many of the next generation, upon whom society depends, are being hampered simply by being born into poverty which robs them of the chance to fulfil their potential.
We are in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis. Inflation hit 3.8% in October driven by rising fuel bills and spiralling food and clothing costs, and this figure may well hit 5% by next spring. Add inflated childcare costs, stagnant wages and the proliferation of zero-hour contracts and it’s easy to see how life is not getting any easier for those who are already struggling.
Our mission is to both address poverty in all its forms and the causes of poverty, and our social policy work is an important part of that mission to alleviate poverty. In 2021 the SVP extended its work supporting people in need with carefully targeted social policy advocacy work which looks to shape and influence policy at local, regional, and national level.
Our Stealing futures report says that “charity is not the solution to in-work poverty” and that “we need a strong commitment from the Government to tackle this hidden crisis, including policies to tackle insecure work, the high cost of childcare and low wages.” In the meantime, the SVP will always be on hand to support people in poverty of any kind with kindness and dignity, and without judgement.
We don’t stand alone on poverty. We need to raise as many voices as possible in support of people for whom affording the basic essentials of life – food, fuel, and shelter – is becoming increasingly difficult in the current financial climate.
Our report highlights the growing challenges the cycle of poverty means for people who want to work, provide for their family and live with dignity.
I urge you to read the report here and share it as widely as possible.
Until such time as fairness becomes an integral part of the Government’s policies with regard to work, you can support people experiencing the effects of in-work poverty by donating to our Christmas Kindness Appeal here, or call 07593 384429.
Kindness Appeal here, or call 07593 384429.