In-work poverty in the UK: Trends, tax credits and transitions

Room 113, Room 113 - Muirhead Tower
Wednesday 12 December 2018 (13:00-14:00)

If you would like to attend, please contact Helen Harris

Dr Rod Hick, Senior Lecturer in Social Policy, Cardiff University, UK


There is growing concern about in-work poverty in many countries in the Global North, though public debate lacks clarity about what, exactly, in-work poverty is and how it should be tackled. In this talk, I will outline some of the different approaches to measuring in-work poverty that exist internationally, with a particular focus on the distinction between the official EU definition of in-work poverty and the measurement tradition favoured by scholars in the United Kingdom. 

I will subsequently outline trends in in-work poverty between 2004/5 and 2014/15, and will identify the groups who have borne the rise in in-work poverty during this period, drawing on results from a Nuffield Foundation-funded projected conducted with Dr Alba Lanau. I will then examine the relationship between tax credits and in-work poverty, demonstrating that tax credits were highly effective at reducing in-work poverty for families who received them, but that a substantial proportion of working poor families did not. Finally, the paper will present findings of in-poverty transitions, drawing on data from the Understanding Society survey, demonstrating the ways in which people can, and do, enter and exit in-work poverty in the UK. 

Download the Powerpoint Presentation (PDF)


Dr Rod Hick is a Senior Lecturer in Social Policy at Cardiff University. His research interests are the conceptualisation and measurement of poverty; the analysis of social security and anti-poverty initiatives, and the capability approach. He holds a PhD in Social Policy from the London School of Economics, is currently co-editor of the Journal of Poverty and Social Justice, and in 2015 won the Foundation for International Studies on Social Security prize for the best paper presented at their annual conference. In 2016-17 he led a study examining in-work poverty in the UK, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, the findings of which were reported in The Guardian, The Independent and in the House of Commons. He is currently part of a team examining in-work poverty in New Zealand, funded by the NZ Human Rights Commission.