Families with incomes below the poverty line dropped from 14 million in 1996-97 to 12.4 million in 2002-03, a New Policy Institute study for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation reveals.
The number of children living in poor households fell over the same period from 4.3 million to 3.6 million and the number of pensioners living in poverty dropped by 500,000.
But the number of working-age adults without dependent children living in households below the poverty line showed an increase of 300,000, from 3.6 million to 3.9 million.
The monitoring also found that seven million workers earn less than £6.50 an hour. of whom four million are women. The risk of low pay is especially high for young people without educational qualifications beyond GCSE level, the study notes.
Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion 2004 can be viewed via www.PlanningResource.co.uk.