Socialist Worker

Wage cuts and job losses mean children go hungry

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2378

Average calories consumed falls (Source: Institute of Fiscal Studies: Food expenditure and nutritional quality over the Great Recession)

Average calories consumed falls (Source: Institute of Fiscal Studies: Food expenditure and nutritional quality over the Great Recession)


Real terms wage cuts and sackings have left millions struggling to put food on the table according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Household spending on food in Britain dropped by an average of 8.5 percent in real terms between 2005-7 and 2010-12.

For families with young children the figure is a staggering 18 percent. Households are consuming an average of 4 percent fewer calories than before the financial crash.

And people are eating more of the cheaper “calorie dense” foods as the price of fresh food has risen more than processed goods. The report said this is particularly true of pensioners, single parents and households with children.

No wonder that teachers reported an 85 percent rise in children arriving at school hungry in a survey by the Daily Mirror last month. And the Chief Medical Officer last month warned that the childhood disease rickets is on the rise, partly due to poor diet.

Food poverty is creating a ticking timebomb of long term health problems for ordinary people. The Tories have tried to blame poor people for making the “wrong” choices. They say people are poor because they are too lazy to work and want to live their lives on benefits.

In reality it is the Tories and their boss friends who are throwing people out of work and pushing people into poverty by cutting benefits.

Meanwhile those in work are having their pay slashed. The number of people paid less than the living wage rose from 4.8 million to 5.2 million in the last year, according to consultants KPMG.

Women and young workers are among the hardest hit. More than a quarter of women workers, 27 percent, are paid less than the living wage. That compares to 16 percent of men.

The Save the Children charity said the number of children living in homes earning less than the living wage has reached nearly two million. Two thirds of children in poverty have at least one parent in work.

The living wage rose to a measly £7.65 an hour for workers outside London and just £8.80 for London workers on Monday of this week. But bosses don’t have to pay it because it’s voluntary. 

And wage levels are still not high enough to guarantee a decent standard of living. While wages, jobs and benefits are attacked, the cost of living has soared. The price of food shot up by a whopping 33 percent between 2007 and 2013. The bosses’ CBI boasted last week of its hopes for a return to economic growth.

But without real jobs and real wages, their “recovery” leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.


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Tue 5 Nov 2013, 18:26 GMT
Issue No. 2378
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