By Cassie Chambers
The government's deficit reduction strategy is devastating those with the lowest incomes, a report out today claims.
The report, conducted by Oxfam, found that the combination of increasing unemployment, decreasing availability of jobs, and cuts to welfare and public services has created a "perfect storm" that could be disastrous for vulnerable individuals in the UK.
Chris Johnes, Oxfam's director of UK poverty, said: "Despite the government's rhetoric about making work pay, having a job is no longer necessarily enough to lift someone out of poverty.
"The government is justifying huge cuts to welfare support for people on low incomes by saying this will incentivise work," he continued, "but there simply aren't enough decent jobs available".
This perfect storm, according to the report, is contributing to rising inequality in the UK. While the average earnings in the UK shrunk by 4.4% last year, the incomes of FTSE 100 company directors increased 49%.
"We need to see income being distributed more fairly if we are to make any impact on reducing levels of poverty," Mr Johnes added.
"If we carry on down this path the UK will return to levels of inequality not seen since Victorian times."
The report suggests a multi-layered policy approach to protecting vulnerable citizens, including increasing progressive taxation, strengthening the social safety net, and raising the minimum wage.
The publication of Oxfam's findings is timed to coincide with the release of the government's new data on the number of households below average income, expected to reveal an increase in the number of working people living in poverty.