A shocking report has revealed that most people classed as living in poverty have jobs.
For the first time, there are more working families living in poverty in the UK than non-working ones.
The news comes from a study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which said average incomes have plummeted below the poverty line for millions of households.
Julia Unwin, the foundation's chief executive, said: "Hard work is not working."
Some 6.7 million working families live below the poverty line - an increase of 500,000 on last year - compared with a combined 6.3 million of retired families and the out-of-work.
Households have been hit by a sustained and "unprecedented" fall in living standards, a report for the organisation found.
Average incomes have fallen by 8% since their peak in 2008. As a result, around 2 million people have an income that while above today's poverty line, would have been below the poverty line in 2008.
Of those in work, the number paid below the living wage rose from 4.6 million to five million in 2012.
Half of working families in poverty have an adult paid below the living wage.
Unwin said the research showed that millions of people were moving in and out of work, but rarely out of poverty itself.
She said: "Hard work is not working. We have a labour market that lacks pay and protection, with jobs offering precious little security and paltry wages that are insufficient to make ends meet."
The JRF did find a number of positive changes, including an improvement in the labour market with falling unemployment and underemployment and, over the longer term, improvements in health and education outcomes.
Unemployment of young adults has peaked at 21%, and total unemployment has begun to fall.
But it found that job insecurity is increasingly common, with one in six members of the workforce claiming Jobseekers' Allowance at some point in the last two years.
The largest group in poverty are working age adults without dependent children - 4.7 million people are in this situation, the highest on record.
There have also been major shifts in which groups are experiencing poverty, with the number of pensioners in poverty
at a 30-year low.
Peter Kenway, director at NPI and an author of the report, said: "Poorer members of society are under more pressure than at any time since the birth of the welfare state.
"The value of the safety net for working age adults is now sinking steadily. The support on offer to people who fall on hard times is increasingly threadbare, with benefit levels on a downward spiral.
"A strong safety net to catch those who fall is vital for social mobility - millions are saved by it every year even now - yet no leading politician will defend it."