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One in five people below the poverty line


the disgrace of food poverty in 21st century britainThe relentless rise of food poverty in Britain.

Today, Britain is a country where one in five people live below the poverty line and life expectancy in some areas is lower than in some developing countries.

Yet the rich keep getting richer opening up a massive inequality gap – and the UK is on course to become one of the most unequal countries in the industrialised world.

And although the UK is the seventh richest country in the world, it is also deeply unequal, and millions of families across the UK are living below the breadline.

Oxfam’s ‘Below the Breadline’ report, compiled in conjunction with Church Action on Poverty and the Trussell Trust, reveals a scandalous situation in Britain in 2014.

Oxfam and Church Action on Poverty have calculated that 20,247,042 meals were given to people in food poverty in 2013/14 by the three main food aid providers.

This is a 54 per cent increase on 2012/13.

The ‘Below the Breadline’ report is a follow up to the 2013 research report Walking the Breadline, in which figures from the Trussell Trust, the biggest network of foodbanks in the UK, revealed that cuts and changes to the welfare system were the most common reason for people resorting to food banks.

This growth in food aid, the authors of Walking the Breadline concluded, demonstrated that the social safety net was failing.

And they recommended, among other things, that the government conducts an urgent inquiry into the relationship between welfare changes and cuts, and the growth of food poverty.

This year’s report, Below the Breadline, shows that a combination of changes to the social security system, including a more punitive sanctions regime, a lack of decent work and rising living costs are contributing significantly to food poverty.

And that more and more people are being forced to turn to food banks to put food on their table.

The paper makes recommendations as to how the social security system could provide the safety net when people need it, supporting people into sustainable work and providing for those unable to work.

It also calls for the UK minimum wage to be increased to a living wage by 2020.

The government needs to provide a social security system that acts as a safety net for vulnerable people instead of driving them into poverty.

All parties need to set out plans to address food poverty and commit to raise the National Minimum Wage to the Living Wage by 2020.

Given their impact on hardship and hunger, the government needs to fully review zero-hours contracts and social security sanctions.

Join thousands of others and press your MP to address the growing food poverty problem across the UK.

Email your MP and ask them how their party will tackle these issues and end food poverty.

And then please email Oxfam to let them know know if and how your MP responds.


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