Archive of ‘Britiain Needs A Payrise’ category

Rickets returns as poor families find healthy diets unaffordable

This article by Tracy McVeigh originally appeared in the Guardian.

The UK Faculty of Public Health will call for national food policy including sugar tax as concerns rise over vitamin deficiencies.

Poverty is forcing people to have dangerously poor diets and is leading to the return of rickets and gout – diseases of the Victorian age that affect bones and joints – according the UK Faculty of Public Health.

The public health professionals’ body will call for a national food policy, including a sugar tax, as concerns rise over malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies in British children. It will also appeal for all political parties to back a living wage to help combat the illnesses.

Doctors and hospitals are seeing a rise in children suffering from ailments caused by poor diet and the faculty has linked the trend to people’s inability to afford quality food. Latest figures show there has been a 19% increase in people hospitalised in England and Wales for malnutrition over the past 12 months but experts say this is only the extreme end.

Dr John Middleton, from the FPH, said the calls would come in the faculty’s manifesto to be published next month and warned that ill-health arising from poor diets was worsening throughout Britain “through extreme poverty and the use of food banks“.

He said that obesity remained the biggest problem of food poverty as families are forced into choosing cheap, processed high fat foods just to survive. “It’s getting worse because people can’t afford good quality food,” he said. “Malnutrition, rickets and other manifestations of extreme poor diet are becoming apparent. GPs are reporting rickets anecdotally in Manchester, the East End of London, Birmingham and the West Midlands. It is a condition we believed should have died out.

“The vitamin deficiency states of gout, malnutrition being seen in hospital admission statistics are extreme manifestations of specific dietary deficiencies or excesses, but they are markers of a national diet which is poor. Food prices up 12%, fuel prices up double-figure percentages and wages down is a toxic combination, forcing more people to eat unhealthily.”

He said many policy makers forgot the impact of rising energy prices on diet. “That is the bit people dont really appreciate – a processed meal from a supermarket will need less feeding the meter as of course will a fast food take out. Poor people are having to pay out more of their income on food compared to the better off. There are difficult choices for people on low income.”

Carmel McConnell, founder of the Magic Breakfast charity, which provides a free breakfast to 8,500 British schoolchildren in need each morning, said teachers in the schools she worked in expected to see a dramatic decline in the health of their pupils as they return after the holidays: “Teachers tell us they know even with free school meals it will take two to three weeks to get their kids back up to the weight they were at the end of the last school term because their families cannot afford the food during the holidays.”

McConnell and Middleton both welcome the Nick Clegg-led intiative to start universal free school meals in schools for younger children, although critics are claiming that schools, already facing a dire shortage of places, may find it difficult to accommodate when the scheme is rolled out later this week.

The UK has 3.8 million children in extreme poverty. Charities such as the Trussell Trust report growing need for food banks but say that some of the items donated can be of poor quality.Dr Middleton said: “If the nutritional diseases are markers of a poor diet, the food banks are markers of extreme poverty – the evidence from Trussell Trust suggests the biggest group of users are hard working poor families who have lost benefits, live on low and declining wages and or they have fallen foul of draconian benefits sanctions which propel them into acute poverty and hunger. This is a disastrous and damning indictment on current welfare policy and a shame on the nation. The food banks are providing a real and valued service staving off actual hunger – they are actually keeping people alive.”

Morale at all-time low

This article by Molly Barker originally appeared on UNITElive.

Why are Unite NHS members so angry about their pay? We look at what they do and how much these hard working, highly skilled workers actually earn. Today we focus on admin, ambulance and psychology staff.

Unite represents 100,000 NHS workers, from biomedical scientists to maintenance workers to nurses. Austerity measures put in place by the coalition government are seriously damaging NHS employees, while Cameron and his cronies privatise our national health service.

Administrative and clerical workers

Administration workers provide essential support to front-line NHS workers. To progress in their career they usually need to go on courses, such as those available from the institute of leadership and management. They can earn as little as £16,271.

One admin worker told us, “Staff morale is at an all-time low, I don’t think people realise how hard people work in the NHS and how poorly paid they are and how actually they are treated.”

Another one said, “I have recently been down-banded and gone from working full time to part time and now can’t afford to maintain a home. As a single parent this is extremely stressful.”

Ambulance staff and paramedics

For the ambulance service to work, many staff are needed, from taking calls to driving vehicles. Ambulance staff usually start on a salary of £14,294.

Paramedics need to complete a two year degree and must have a driver’s license, and some need an additional qualification to drive larger vehicles. They have to complete paramedic training.

Paramedics need to be able to use equipment such as defibrillators to resuscitate patients. They work unsociable hours, and also have to deal with upset or sometimes aggressive relatives of patients. Their pay begins at £21,478.

“I used to enjoy my work but changes in the whole system of work and work place has had a very serious effect on most of the staff,” one ambulance work told us.

“I feel totally worthless and apathetic regarding doing my job. I still try to maintain my professional skills but I feel it’s time to leave.”

“Front line services are been affected by the changes that are having to be made,” another worker said. “Staff morale is the lowest I can remember in my 34 years in the NHS.”

Clinical Psychologists

Clinical psychologists need a degree in psychology, as well as further training. Trainee clinical psychologists earn from £25,783 and earn from £30,764 once they have completed their training.

One member spoke of his frustration with the current situation, and warned psychologists could leave for the private sector.

“I am concerned that down-banding, reduced pay compared to inflation, reduced pension entitlements etc. will mean that senior healthcare professionals who are able to, and who are very good at their jobs, will increasingly work privately.

“I am beginning to see this in psychiatry, where consultant psychiatrists are going part-time and doing more private work, and staying fewer days in the NHS. My worry is that, in the future, those who can make a success of it privately will do so.”

Families losing out

This article by Jodie Whitehall originally appeared on UNITElive.

Britain’s poorest families can’t afford a seaside day in 2014.

It may be nearing the end of the great British summer, but it’s not necessarily been that great for many of our kids.

Shocking new research has revealed that one family in five is too poor for a day trip to the seaside.

Children’s charity Barnardo’s has published new research, showing the poorest 20 per cent of families simply don’t have enough disposable income to afford a city to coast trip, even after cutting out everything ‘but the basics’.

A day trip could cost up to £172 from Aylesbury to Bournemouth; £127 from Leicester to Skegness; and £96 from London to Margate. This includes train fair, bought with a railcard meaning an initial outlay of £30 to purchase the railcard, sun cream, fish and chips and ice-cream.

The incomes of the poorest families have plummeted in recent years. They have been hard hit by rising living costs and working and non-working benefits cuts.

Welfare reform has included steps that have severed the link between benefits and inflation.

“These new figures are shocking. They highlight the shameful hike in rail fares, fuel increases and inflation,” said Brett Sparkes, Unite South West Community Coordinator.

“Throw in the cuts made to benefits and pay freezes and it adds up to making a day trip unaffordable to one in five families.”

Working full-time on the £6.31 hourly minimum wage would gross just £13,124 in a year. The minimum disposable income for some of the poorest families is just £39 a week after covering basic living costs.

“A trip to the seaside is a British family tradition and a happy memory every child should be able to enjoy,” added Brett.

“It doesn’t end with trips to seaside towns either. Countless local family attractions are also completely unaffordable to many families. A day out at Windsor’s LEGOLAND would set a family of four back £176.40, London zoo tickets up to £80.88 and London Aquarium £77.40.”

Tyrone Fowles, Unite Community co-ordinator for the West Midlands, agrees. “Unfortunately this is the reality for our most deprived communities in today’s society.

“With soaring costs, families are finding it hard if not impossible to spend family time away from their homes and communities.”

And Tyrone knows only too well what this means. “From first-hand experience of this, my family used to appreciate support from local organisations which would try and bridge the gap. But because of cuts, most of these local organisations have been closed. Family time should be affordable for all not just the few.”

A Unite mum knows the reality. “As a family of five struggling on low pay a day trip to the seaside is an expense we simply can’t afford,” she says.

“It’s hard. As a parent you feel guilty about that. But the reality is that times are hard for lots of families and there’s a lot of stuff we can’t do. Even travelling on public transport with all the kids is too expensive.

“We try and find free things to do with them. A trip to the park with a picnic, play dates with friends, a walk somewhere nice.

“But once the kids are school aged they realise what they’re missing out on. I just wish the government would do something to help families on low incomes and benefits.”

Brett adds, “While the government has little control over what these attractions charge people it does have control over how poor British families are. A good start would be restoring the link between benefits and inflation, introducing the Robin Hood tax and lowering the gap between rich and poor.”

Austerity drives increase in vulnerable families

This article by Hajera Blagg originally appeared in UNITElive.

Unite calls for more health visitors to support families in crisis.

The number of families needing additional support has sky-rocketed from 120,000 to 500,000, as the government’s austerity agenda further drives parents and their children into financial hardship.

David Cameron’s speech highlighting so-called “troubled families” called for an extension of his 2011 scheme set up in the wake of the riots. Despite Cameron lauding the Troubled Families scheme a success, the National Audit Office said in December 2013 that the scheme was “underperforming” as a result of poor departmental coordination and the risks run from setting up the scheme too quickly.

Unite calls on an incoming Labour government to rapidly expand the number of health visitors to tackle the rise of families needing additional support. The union supports the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association (CPHVA) recommendation of 250 caseloads per family, whereas the government’s current goal of 4,200 health visitors by 2015 translates into 276 caseloads per family.

Unite head of health Rachael Maskell criticised Cameron’s ‘smoke-and-mirrors’ approach in his speech on the importance of families.

“The increase in the number of families needing additional support is a reflection of the austerity-driven agenda of the government, which has seen the closure of more than 600 Sure Start centres and the reduction in services at many more,” Rachael said.

“This has been compounded by the slashing of mental health services,” she added. “There has been a 20 per cent cut by ministers, including children and adult mental health services. This means specialists not being there to support families in need of help.”

Unite member Joyce Still, who has worked as a health visitor for the past 30 years, agrees that austerity cuts are directly related to the rise in families needing greater support.

“My job is to support and encourage family health,” she said. “But in the last few years, health visitors have become glorified social workers.”

Joyce, who works in an area in southeast England usually considered affluent, says she now finds herself arranging tokens for families to use at food banks. She also explains how the many domestic violence cases she attends often start as arguments over finances.

“I definitely object to Cameron’s ‘troubled families’ rhetoric,” she said. “He’s labelling and stigmatising people who are struggling to cope precisely because of his government’s policies.

“We definitely need many, many more health visitors, but we need to make sure newly-qualified visitors get the support they need,” Joyce added. “Many new to the profession are immediately overwhelmed by the caseloads and the stress. If we had more health visitors, we could actually do more of the work that we are trained to do.”

Rachael emphasised the obstacles an incoming Labour government faces in supporting vulnerable families.

“With a 400 per cent increase in the number of families they are expected to support, there is a serious shortfall in the health professionals to carry out the necessary work of supporting these families,” she said.

“Increasing the number of health visitors will be a difficult task, but necessary given the woeful legacy of this government’s austerity programme and its adverse impact on vulnerable families.”

Private firms ‘are using detained immigrants as cheap labour’

This article by Kevin Rawlinson originally appeared in the Guardian.

G4S and Serco saving millions by paying detainees as little as £1 an hour to cook and clean, claim campaigners.

Campaigners have criticised private firms for using immigration detainees as cheap labour inside detention centres after research suggested this saves them millions of pounds. Some detainees said they were being paid as little as £1 an hour to cook and clean.

Home Office figures showed that in May this year, detainees in centres run by Serco, G4S and other contractors did nearly 45,000 hours of work for a total of nearly £45,500 in pay. Had they been paid at the national minimum wage, the cost would have been more than £280,000.

Over 12 months, the figures suggest that the firms – which also include Mitie and GEO – could have saved more than £2.8m, according to research group Corporate Watch, which obtained the data, and said firms were “exploiting their captive migrant workforce”.

The Home Office insisted, however, that detainees had a choice whether or not to work and that inspectors had praised the practice of allowing them to work while they await removal from the UK.

One female detainee, who spent months in the Yarl’s Wood centre in Bedfordshire, where she was employed as a cleaner, said she believed the detainees were being used to do essential work in place of staff paid the minimum wage.

Another detainee, Ralph Ojotu, who works as a cleaner in Harmondsworth detention centre, said that it was hypocritical of the British government to ban him from working to support his two children in the outside world, but to allow him to be employed on around £1 an hour in a detention centre run by its contractor GEO.

“We are not allowed to work out there, but in here, they are handing out jobs like pieces of cake,” he said.

The figures relate to seven centres: Yarl’s Wood and Colnbrook, which are operated by Serco; Brook House and Tinsley House, which are run by G4s; and Harmondsworth and Dungavel, which are managed by American firm GEO. The seventh centre, Campsfield, is run by Mitie.

Two government-run centres, Dover and Morton Hall, also employ detainees on £1 per hour, potentially saving more than £1.4m per year.

Phil Miller, a researcher at Corporate Watch, said: “These companies are potentially saving millions of pounds by exploiting their captive migrant workforce on a grand scale. Our research has shown that the detention centres would grind to a halt without the amount of essential work done by detainees on a daily basis – cooking and cleaning.”

The status of immigration detainees held in centres while their cases are decided is distinct from that of convicted prisoners. Yet, like prison inmates, they do not qualify for the national minimum wage. They are also barred from any other form of work, yet must pay for essential goods such as toiletries. The latest financial figures from G4S in the UK and Ireland show that the company made £122m in pre-tax profit in 2013, while Serco made £106m in the same period. Mitie’s accounts show it made £127.5m in the 12 months to June 2014, while GEO’s US-based parent, GEO Group Inc, reported £184m in pre-tax profit.

On behalf of the firms, a Home Office spokesman said: “The long-standing practice of offering paid work to detainees has been praised by Her Majesty’s inspectorate of prisons as it helps to keep them occupied whilst their removal is being arranged. Whether or not they wish to participate is entirely up to the detainees themselves. This practice is not intended to substitute the work of trained staff.”

Wyn Jones, of Serco, said the paid work was voluntary and in accordance with Home Office rules. He added: “It is offered to residents alongside other constructive activities to help reduce boredom and improve mental health and, if not conducted, would have no effect on the running of the [centres]. Serco refutes any implication that we use residents to conduct work in place of officers or staff at any of the IRCs that we manage and thereby increase profits.”

Food spending falls for first time as stores compete and real wages drop

The article by Angela Monaghan originally appeared in the Guardian.

Britain’s food bill drops for first time as supermarkets wage price wars and consumers fail to feel effects of economic recovery.

Spending in food stores fell for the first time on record in July amid intense competition between Britain’s biggest supermarkets – while consumers have yet to feel the benefit of recovery in their pockets.

Britons spent £11.7bn on food during the month, a 1.3% drop compared with July last year. It was the first annual fall in the value of food sales since the Office for National Statistics started collecting the data in 1989. The volume of food sales was also down last month, by 1.5% on an annualised basis.

The ONS put the fall in the value of food sales down to “prolonged discounting and price wars”. Britain’s leading supermarkets have all slashed prices on basic items to fight off competition from Aldi and Lidl, the German discount food chains that have become increasingly popular among cash-strapped UK shoppers.

At the same time, a prolonged fall in real wages has encouraged consumers to shop around more for bargains, opting for cheaper alternative products such as own-brand labels, and buying fewer premium-brand goods. Consumers are also focusing on wasting less food, buying little but more often.

Neil Saunders, managing director at retail consultancy Conlumino, said the unprecedented fall in July was significant. “It is an indication of the issues occurring in the food and grocery market at the moment. We have too many players chasing not enough sales.

“[The drop] is significant because it underlines the real pressure within that segment of the market, and it underlines an economic shift in the way the industry works. That’s obviously very painful for some of the players in that market.”

Prices in UK food stores were 0.2% higher than a year ago – the lowest food-price growth rate since December 2004. Prices of goods sold across the retail sector were 0.9% lower than a year ago, the strongest rate of deflation since 2009.

Britain’s economic recovery looks increasingly established, with growth outpacing that of its G7 peers and an increase in gross domestic product of 0.8% in the first and second quarters of this year. Nevertheless, household budgets remain under pressure as workers’ real pay has fallen for the majority of the past six years.

Consumers are also braced for higher borrowing costs, as the Bank of England moves closer to increasing interest rates for the first time since March 2009.

Saunders said prospects for Britain’s retail sector overall remained mixed. “It is a very competitive sector at the moment and, although there is a genuine economic recovery, it is not filtering through to consumers as much as retailers would like. People are still very cautious about spending. It is not a bad picture for retail, but it is mixed.”

He said that a strong housing market was boosting some areas of the sector, including homeware and DIY goods.

The ONS data showed the volume of retail sales rose by 0.1% over the month in July, disappointing City expectations of a stronger rise of 0.4%. Growth was held back by sales of fuel and household goods, which both fell in July.

It slowed the annual rate of growth to an eight-month low of 2.6%, and could be a sign that economic growth is moderating, according to John Hawksworth, chief economist at accountancy firm PwC. However, he said it was too soon to be clear whether it was a sign of things to come. “Retail sales data can be erratic, so we should wait for more evidence before concluding that the recovery is running out of steam.”

Once fuel sales were stripped out, the volume of retail sales grew by 0.5% on a monthly basis in July. Samuel Tombs, senior UK economist at Capital Economics, said it was an encouraging sign of resilience among consumers.

“July’s retail sales figures provided reassurance that consumers are still willing to spend more even though an interest-rate hike is looming.” Tombs said a 3.3% fall in fuel sales in July was probably down to a rise in prices during the month and should prove to be temporary.

“Oil prices have fallen sharply in recent weeks, suggesting that pump prices will fall back soon,” he said.

The unemployment figures expose the philosophy behind our economic recovery

This article by Alex Andreou originally appeared in the Guardian here.

Many people are enjoying neither good wages nor job security – the outcome of the UK government’s neoliberal philosophy.

The labour market figures released today show unemployment continuing to fall and the employment rate rising. This is good news, of course. The most striking data, however, has been on wage growth. For the first time since 2009, wages actually fell by 0.2% in the three months to June. Combined with a rising consumer price inflation index of 1.9% over the same period, it confirms a catastrophic pincer squeeze on living standards.

The work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, insisted all is not as bad as it seems. “You have to be in work in order to even have a chance of your wages rising,” he said. But that is to focus on the thousands of people entering the job market as somehow offsetting the problem of the many millions who were already working and have seen their wages squeezed for years now, while the cost of basic living continues to rise. It is comparing oranges with apples.

Duncan Smith explained that year-on-year comparisons were skewed because they include many City employees who chose to defer their bonuses in the last financial year to the start of this financial year. He did not explain that the reason so many bonuses were deferred was in anticipation of the reduction of the top rate of tax from 50p to 45p – a particularly shameful episode in this government’s economic policy. This tax change was sold to the public as having a minimal impact because the 50p rate was highly inefficient, but it seems to be having a significant effect on overall figures. Even stripping away bonuses, wage growth was an anaemic 0.6% – still well below inflation and the slowest pace since 2001.

The Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) released a report on Monday dubbing the UK “the self-employment capital of western Europe”. This may well be an important piece of the puzzle of strikingly good employment figures accompanied by flat productivity and falling real-terms wages. Two-fifths of all new jobs since 2010 have been self-employment. And self-employed incomes, according to figures from the Institute of Fiscal Studies, have fallen by 14%, compared with a 9% fall for those in regular employment.

Recently, my friend J related to me her tale of self-employment over a drink. Having been made redundant from her job in a media company, she went into her local job centre to sign on. “Do you have any hobbies that involve making something?” she was asked by her adviser. “Well, I quite like to knit,” she responded. That was it. She was going to sell knitwear on eBay for a living. Despite her protestations, she was enrolled on a one-week start-up training course (this meant that she was paid the equivalent of jobseeker’s allowance but from a different fund and never showed up in unemployment statistics). On the first day of the course, she was put in a room with other “entrepreneurs” and shown episodes of the BBC’s Dragon’s Den. She was encouraged to use her savings to buy supplies for her “business”. She became anxious and unhappy. Thankfully, J found a regular job soon after and is now trying to sell the knitting supplies on eBay to recover some of her outlay costs.

This is, of course, only an anecdote – by no means an isolated one – but an anecdote that fits interestingly with the IPPR’s senior economic analyst Spencer Thompson’s view that “some [self-employed] are entrepreneurs, driven by high-growth ambitions, innovation and disruptive business models, but many are sole-traders simply looking to get by”. This is why, according to the IPPR, some in the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee see the dramatic rise in self-employment not as the success story it is being presented as, but as indicative of an underlying weakness in the recovery.

The squeeze is no temporary glitch, either. This morning the Bank halved its forecast for wage growth from 2.5% to 1.25% – below expected inflation – so the pincer movement is likely to continue. These figures represent a brittleness in the economic recovery and a significant political risk for the government. The more their vociferous insistence that things are getting better diverges from the reality of people’s lives, the bigger the chance it will be discounted as a fabrication by the electorate. Such ostrich-ism feeds directly into the perception that they are out of touch.

Duncan Smith’s thesis that people are more interested in security than wage increases may be true. But the government is uncomfortably shoehorning more and more of the workforce into self-employment, part-time work and zero-hours contracts. This combines with a sustained erosion of business regulation, employment rights and unionisation to create a toxic environment in which most people are enjoying neither good wages nor job security. It confirms critics’ assessments that the past four years have been not so much crisis-necessitated austerity as a structural change inspired by a neoliberal philosophy.

 

Breadline Britain: One in three now living in poverty as chasm between rich and poor widens

This story by Jason Beattie originally appeared in the Daily Mirror here.

Almost 18 million cannot afford adequate housing and 2.5 million kids live in damp homes while ‘working poor’ are on the rise.

The number of Britons living in poverty has soared to one in three, a shock report reveals.

Almost 18 million cannot afford adequate housing and 2.5 million kids live in damp homes.

It also shows that poverty has more than doubled in 30 years, as David Cameron allows the gap between rich and poor to become a chasm.

Furious Labour MP Frank Field branded the rise “horrendous”.

Smug ministers keep saying they are helping people out of hardship – but their claims have been shot to pieces today by shocking evidence.

In a damning verdict on the Coalition, a report has revealed that 33% of people in Britain are living below the breadline.

It means poverty has more than doubled since 1983, when the figure stood at 14%.

Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves said: “David Cameron’s government has completely failed to tackle poverty and deprivation.

“Child poverty is set to rise, not fall under his government. And there are more people in poverty in work than out of work.”

And Mr Field added: “Tackling the causes of poverty is clearly the right strategy – this report shows that the Government’s strategy isn’t working.

“Here then is the most major challenge to all our political parties; what is your manifesto going to say to reverse the horrendous rise in the numbers of people in poverty detailed in this report?”

The major study, led by Bristol University, revealed a string of shameful findings.

  • Almost 18 million cannot afford adequate housing conditions.
  • 1.5 million children live in households that cannot afford to heat the home
  • 2.5 million kids live in properties that are damp
  • More than half a million children live in families who cannot afford to feed them properly
  • 12 million people are too poor to have a social life
  • 5.5 million adults go without essential clothing
  • One in every six adults in paid work is still poor.

Read: We are example of how inequality ruins a nation’s prospects, says director of The Equality Trust Duncan Exley.

The study blows apart the idea peddled by the Government that getting a job tackles poverty.

It found the majority of children living below the breadline have at least one parent in work.

The report said: “These results dispel the myth, often conveyed by government ministers, that poverty in general and child poverty in particular is a consequence of a lack of paid work – a result of shirking rather than striving.

“It found the majority of children who suffer from multiple deprivations – such as going without basic necessities, having an inadequate diet and clothing – live in small families with one or two siblings, live with both parents, have at least one parent who is employed, are white and live in England.”

The Poverty and Social Exclusion in the United Kingdom report, which studied 14,559 people, is the largest of its kind conducted in Britain.

While Mr Cameron has allowed fatcats to flourish, the research showed that one in three people cannot afford to heat their homes properly in winter.

And four million people are not properly fed by today’s standards.

Professor David Gordon, from the Townsend Centre for International Poverty Research at Bristol University, said: “The Coalition government aimed to eradicate poverty by tackling the causes of poverty. Their strategy has clearly failed.

“The available high quality scientific evidence shows poverty and deprivation have increased since 2010, the poor are suffering from deeper poverty and the gap between the rich and poor is widening.”

The shocking statistics shatter the PM’s boast that his welfare reforms are a “moral mission” giving hope to the poor.

But a Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “There is strong evidence that incomes have improved over the last 30 years, despite the misleading picture painted by this report.

“The independent statistics are clear – there are 1.4 million fewer people in poverty since 1998.

“And under this government we have successfully protected the poorest from falling behind, with a reduction of 300,000 children living in relative income poverty and 100,000 fewer children in workless poor families. As part of our economic plan, the Government is committed to tackling the root causes of child poverty.”

This comes a week after Mr Cameron’s anti-poverty tsar Alan Milburn warned that t he Government’s child poverty plans were doomed to fail.

Ex-Labour minister Mr Milburn said the Coalition’s policies were a “farce” and warned that 3.5 million children will be in poverty by 2020.

Despite the size of the economy doubling in the past 30 years, the number of families who cannot afford to heat their homes has also doubled in that time.

There are now 13 million people living in cold or damp homes – three million more than in the 1990s.

Recent figures also show the number of emergency food parcels handed out has soared to more than a million because of the Government’s austerity measures.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/breadline-britain-one-three-now-3721284#ixzz3ATM0Y1lL