Issue date
28 Mar 2019
New official statistics show working age poverty in Wales is persisting, despite employment growth. Government must take positive action to improve wages and empower workers, says Wales TUC.

Wales TUC analysis of new official poverty figures published today (Thursday) has found that working age poverty in Wales has not fallen since 2010/11, despite national unemployment falling significantly.

The proportion of working age people living in poverty was 22% in 2010/11, and 23% in 2017/18, according to today’s new figures from the Office for National Statistics.

This is despite unemployment in Wales falling from 7.7% in 2011 to 4.4% in 2018.

Wales TUC Policy Officer Nisreen Mansour said:

“Work used to be the best route out of poverty, but for more and more people this isn’t the case.

“Too many jobs in Wales pay poverty wages and provide little security. They’re not left with enough to build a decent life for themselves and their families.

“We need to redesign our economy to make it fairer. People need more control over their working lives and a fairer share of the wealth they create. This is why we’re campaigning to make Wales a Fair Work Nation – where workers have a real say in their pay and conditions. We can fight the rise of in-work poverty by empowering workers through trade unions.”

Editors note

Notes to editors:

Working age poverty and unemployment for UK nations and regions*

UK nation or region

(1) Working age poverty %

(2) Unemployment rate %

2010/11

2017/18

Change (ppts)

Jan-Mar 2011

Jan-Mar 2018

Change (ppts)

North East

22

23

+1

10.4

4.9

-5.5

North West

23

22

-1

7.8

4.3

-3.5

Yorks & Humber

23

21

-2

9.2

4.6

-4.6

East Mids

21

20

-1

7.7

4.0

-3.7

West Mids

24

22

-2

9.5

4.8

-4.7

Eastern

18

19

+1

6.2

3.9

-2.3

London

28

25

-3

9.1

4.9

-4.2

South East

16

18

+2

5.7

3.4

-2.3

South West

20

18

-2

6.6

3.5

-3.1

Wales

22

23

+1

7.7

4.4

-3.3

Scotland

19

23

+1

7.7

4.9

-5.5

Northern Ireland

19

22

-1

7.2

4.3

-3.5

* A worker is considered in working age poverty if their household income is less than 60% of median household income (after housing costs).
Source: Poverty figures are taken from Households Below Average Incomes 1994/95-2017/18 and unemployment figures from the Labour Force Survey, both of which are publications of the Office for National Statistics.

- HBAI provides data at national level for the proportion of working age adults living below the poverty line that have at least one adult in work. Today’s new data shows that for 2017/18 it was 60%, meaning that the majority of working age people living below the poverty line are in households with work. The data sample is not large enough to be able to give this sub-categorisation at regional level.


Changes needed to end working poverty: Wales TUC is calling on the Welsh government to introduce a Social Partnership Act. A Social Partnership Act will kick start a culture change in Wales’ labour market, where workers’ collective voice is balanced against that of their employer. It will:        

  • Deliver Fair Work using policy and funding levers, raising collective bargaining coverage
  • Protect workers’ rights through more effective enforcement
  • Strengthen Social Partnerships arrangements between unions, employers and government

Wales TUC is the voice of Wales at work. With 49 member unions, Wales TUC represents just over 400,000 workers. We campaign for a fair deal at work and for social justice at home and abroad.

National TUC Press Office
media@tuc.org.uk
020 7467 1248

Wales TUC Cymru

wtuc@tuc.org.uk

029 2034 7010