The role of the low-pay, no-pay cycle in recurrent poverty
Dr Tracy Shildrick, Professor Robert MacDonald, Kayleigh Garthwaite (all Teesside University) and Dr Colin Webster (Leeds Metropolitan University)
Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
This project builds on the team's previous qualitative studies of the life transitions of poor young adults by providing an in-depth, qualitative appreciation of the lived realities of recurrent poverty for older age groups.
Employment may be the best route out of poverty. The preponderance of low paid, low skill, insecure employment – 'poor work' – means that for some people getting a job will not constitute a step on a ladder up and away from poverty.
The project interrogates important qualitative questions associated with the 'low pay, no pay' cycle and its significance for understanding recurrent poverty. By using in-depth, biographical interviews, we locate our questions about poor people's labour market experiences within a broader understanding of their lives, allowing investigation of the potentially wider set of factors that may make poverty a recurrent condition for some.
Prioritising the perspectives of those experiencing (or who have experienced) recurrent poverty, helps to shed light on the ways in which the ‘'ow pay, no pay cycle' may interweave with – and contribute to – wider experiences of multiple and cumulative disadvantage (for example in respect of health, education, skills).
Our approach also allows for some exploration of ways individuals may manage to escape recurrent poverty and its implications for policy and practice development. The study will add to policy developments such as Employment Retention and Advancement programme and the Local Employment Partnerships 'jobs pledge', chiefly by offering a deeper understanding of the complex lives of poor people and how this acts as a barrier to progress out of poverty through the labour market.
We seek to provide new qualitative evidence that will help bridge supply-side, employability agendas (for example, about job entry) and demand-side, retention and progression strategies (about sustained and better employment).
The study is based in 'poor neighbourhoods' in Teesside, North East England. Detailed, qualitative, biographical interviews will be held with 60 men and women (aged 30-55 years) who have experience of 'poor work' and recurrent poverty. Approximately half will have been interviewed before as part of our previous studies, providing longitudinal insight into the dynamics of poverty. Additionally, 20 interviews will be held with employers and other stakeholders to gather their perspectives on our research questions.