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Preventing Further Poverty in the UK: Supporting and Improving the Lives of ‘Just About Managing’ Families

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symposiumSYMPOSIUM - According to a report published by the Resolution Foundation in September 2016 there are approximately six million ‘just about managing’ families or JAMs as they have become known, across Britain. Accounting for a third of the working population, these families have at least one member in work, but are usually employed in lower paying jobs and are five times less likely to be employed. Moreover, the study estimated that home ownership has fallen from 59% to 26% during the last two decades. With rising inflation and living costs combined with a pay squeeze and cuts in welfare support, ‘just about managing’ families are increasingly facing the eminent risk of falling into poverty. Ordinary working families have been the focus of the Government’s efforts to support lower income families. In her first statement as Prime Minister, Theresa May, attempted to give reassurances to the struggling working households by emphasising that they represent a priority for this Government. Although the 2017 budget introduced a number of measures, including a doubling of free child care for working parents and increases in the national living wage and personal tax allowance, it failed to provide “breathing space” for struggling families. At the same time, the recent cuts and changes in the welfare system pose new threats to struggling households. While the income of these families is principally generated from work, they often rely on welfare support and as such account for two thirds of all working families with children in receipt of tax credits. The child tax credit that came into force in April 2017 and is limited to the first two children in any family is expected to affect 515,000 families by 2020. Amid these developments, think-tanks and charities are increasingly warning against the deteriorating living standards of ordinary working families and are already calling for provisions to ease their burdens in the 2018 Budget. This timely symposium will provide practitioners across local authorities, social services, welfare and the housing sector with an invaluable opportunity to come together and share best practice on ways to support families living on the edge and consider what can be done to gain long-term financial security.


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