Charity urges government to increase minimum wage
Couples raising two children while working full-time on minimum wage are falling £49 a week short of being able to provide their family with a basic, no-frills lifestyle, research has found.
The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has called for an increase in the national living wage to allow families to have an acceptable standard of living.
Its Cost Of A Child report today shows an 11% weekly shortfall for a couple raising two children at the point when they are aged three and seven.
Worse, however, was the deficit for lone parents who fall 20% short each week of being able to provide a level of living for their children defined as acceptable by public opinion.
The charity has blamed rising prices, benefits and tax credit freezes, the bedroom tax and t also he roll-out of Universal Credit for hitting "family budgets hard".
CPAG chief executive Alison Garnham said: "There is strong public support for government topping up the wages of low-paid parents and investing in children is the best long-term investment we can make.
"By using the forthcoming Budget to unfreeze benefits and restore work allowances, the government can definitely take the steps towards making work really pay."
Gains from increased minimum wages were offset by a freeze in tax credit support, the research said.
The findings did, however, show an improvement on last year when the family with an 11% shortfall would have found themselves with a 13% deficit.
The overall cost for a couple raising a first child until they are 18 fell from £155,100 to £150,800. The government said fewer people are living in absolute poverty today.
It said that ministers are committed to giving every child the best chance.
"The employment rate is at a near-record high and the national living wage has delivered the highest pay increase for the lowest paid in 20 years, worth £2,000 extra per year for a full-time worker," it added.