Assembly Member Krupesh Hirani has intensified his demand for government intervention to combat in-work poverty in Harrow, as recent figures reveal that 36.7% of those relying on Universal Credit in the borough are employed.
Hirani is calling on the government to address the pervasive issue of low pay and to increase the rate of Universal Credit to alleviate the financial struggles faced by working residents in London.
According to the latest government statistics, out of the 22,042 individuals depending on Universal Credit in Harrow, 8,095 are employed but still require government benefits to make ends meet.
Assembly Member Hirani has also urged the government to take decisive action against the root causes of low pay, which include exploitative zero-hour contracts, fire-and-rehire schemes, and inadequate workers’ rights that have all contributed to the prevalence of low wages in the capital.
While government schemes like the recent reforms to the Work Capability Assessment have pushed many into employment, they have failed to address the issue of low pay, which continues to drive in-work poverty and forces workers to seek income support.
One statistic highlighted by Hirani is that over half (51%) of working-age Londoners living in poverty are already in employment, underscoring the severity of the problem.
Data from the Trussell Trust and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation reveals that 90% of low-income households on Universal Credit are currently unable to afford essentials, including food, hygiene products, and basic utilities, due to the inadequacy of their benefits.
Hirani has encouraged local organisations to follow the lead of more than 2,500 employers who have already adopted the London Living Wage, which is currently set at £11.95 per hour.
This wage rate takes into account the higher cost of living in the capital, ensuring that London workers can afford essentials.
Hirani has also highlighted the disparity in wages between age groups, with the National Living Wage set by the government at £10.42 but only available to workers aged 23 and over.
Younger employees are subject to lower rates of the National Minimum Wage, exacerbating the issue of low pay for the most vulnerable workers.
Mr Hirani said, “It is a travesty that so many Londoners are forced into in-work poverty by low pay and Government inaction.
“Ministers insist that getting people into work is the key to eliminating poverty but
their own figures show that a majority of those claiming Universal Credit are already
“On top of this, the Government is ignoring the poverty faced by those on Universal Credit, where Londoners cannot afford the essentials of food, hygiene products and keeping their homes warm.
“City Hall has been leading the way, providing free school meals, a cost of living advice hub and a warmer homes scheme providing grants for insulation.
“Now the Government must play their part by improving workers’ conditions and raising Universal Credit to ensure Londoners aren’t forced into poverty.”