Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food

The fact that some families have £2 per person per day for food is a stark reality for many - but this hardship is lost on the government, report Family Action.

 

Anthony McCaul is the senior media and campaigns officer for the charity Family Action

Could you live on £2 per day for food? That’s the state of the family finances of some of the parents Family Action supports.

The fact that some families have £2 per person per day for food is a stark reality for many – but this hardship is lost on the government.

Whilst politicians are busy squabbling about whether to keep measuring child poverty, mums and dads are trying to feed family members on less than the cost of a cheap packet supermarket sandwich a day.

A few weeks ago I met with parents in this position at one of our services in Lewisham who were fighting to keep afloat.

The parents had multiple problems to deal with, including mental health, domestic abuse, poverty and social isolation. Yet they all wanted to get back to work when they were ready, able and stable.

Desperate to be given the chance to provide and angry at newspaper headlines and politicians labelling them as languishing on the dole, one parent told a story about how a lack of flexible, affordable childcare had meant she was unable to take a job with prospects.

She’d been offered a training place but had to turn it down. Her frustration was palpable and this distress had affected her fragile health.

Insufficient investment in affordable childcare is just one example of the barriers austerity is putting in the way of families improving their fortunes. Families are also facing an onslaught on their finances from rising food, fuel and rental prices; they are in the eye of the austerity storm sweeping Britain.

Ahead of the budget we wanted to give our families the chance to send a message to chancellor George Osborne and today we’re launching our Family Fortunes report (pdf).

We spoke to parents who use our services across England collecting views on how families’ finances are being affected by rising costs and shrinking welfare support.

We heard from a range of parents using our services from Worcester mums very much in the squeezed middle to impoverished black and minority ethnic communities in inner city Bradford as well as young mums from Southend and parents struggling to get back to work in Islington.

Our families report a crash in their family fortunes, leading to despair for the future. Food and fuel prices are putting intense pressure on family budgets and making saving for children’s futures impossible for all.

Key findings of our Family Fortunes report (pdf) show parents prioritising energy bill payments and squeezing fresh fruit and vegetables out of food budgets – with some families spending less than £2 per person per day on food after they’ve paid their bills.

Families feel it is important to save for their children’s future but are unable to do so.

Parents told us child benefit is an essential component of income and day to day household spending for those at the very bottom and the squeezed middle. Housing is also a critical factor – benefit cuts and poor quality accommodation eat into money for other essentials through rent top-ups and massive fuel bills for poorly-insulated homes.

Expensive, scarce childcare and high transport costs coupled with a lack of jobs often mean that even professionally qualified parents are unable to boost their incomes by working, or find that their wages are swallowed up by in-work costs.

All our families gave a clear message to Mr Osborne to step in and protect their incomes as rising food prices fuel inflation, and barriers to getting back to work mean many parents fear for the future.

Families were united in highlighting unaffordable childcare as a major block to getting back to work and making work pay. Families want to save for their children’s future but balancing the household budget does not allow this.

Our #OiGeorge hashtag on Twitter is highlighting some of the key things our families wanted to pass on to the chancellor; here are just a few of the things our families are saying ahead of brandishing of the red box on Budget Day:

“I’ve had a savings account for nearly two years and I can’t afford to put anything in it.”

“Provide more, good quality, cheap childcare.”

“Come and live with some people on low incomes to see what it’s like.”

We hope the chancellor is a family man and is listening to their plight.

You can read our full recommendations in Family Fortunes and Tweet your own messages to the chancellor using the hashtag #FamilyFortunes; you can follow Family Action on twitter at @family_action.

See also:

Edwina Currie is good at making people cryAlex Hern, February 16th 2012

Osborne’s austerity obsession is betraying a generation of young peopleWilliam Bain MP, February 16th 2012

Exposed: The six myths of IDS’s benefits capShamik Das, January 23rd 2012

The right’s attack on child poverty targets shows their ignoranceTim Nichols, December 15th 2011

Currie v Jones: Do people go hungry in Britain?Alex Hern, November 14th 2011

41 Responses to “Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food”

  1. les wilkins,

    Tory Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food – //t.co/hQr9QpcJ

  2. Betty Worker

    Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food: //t.co/6V15dpDB reveals @family_action’s @antmccaul

  3. peter f woolf

    Tory Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food – //t.co/hQr9QpcJ

  4. Stephanie Brooke

    Tory Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food – //t.co/hQr9QpcJ

  5. leftlinks

    Left Foot Forward – Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food //t.co/2fF9i3Qh

  6. Edward Clarke

    Tory Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food – //t.co/hQr9QpcJ

  7. Kim Blake

    Tory Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food – //t.co/hQr9QpcJ

  8. The WOO

    “@TheRightArticle: Tory Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person a day for food – //t.co/xkaudVJT”
    How much 4 fonts and sky?

  9. The WOO

    “@TheRightArticle: Tory Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food – //t.co/xkaudVJT”How much 4 fones and sky

  10. tracy e

    Tory Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food – //t.co/hQr9QpcJ

  11. Clare Noire

    #UK : Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food //t.co/CDLVSpIz

  12. Anonymous

    PLEASE somebody – do the sums with real figures. Hopefully Cameron and his friends can do take-away sums.

  13. Pat DiLorenzo

    Tory Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food – //t.co/hQr9QpcJ

  14. Glyn Mills

    #UK : Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food //t.co/CDLVSpIz

  15. Political Planet

    Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food: The fact that some families have £2 per pe… //t.co/lNdgzDyQ

  16. K Carington Smith

    Tory Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food – //t.co/hQr9QpcJ

  17. Shamik Das

    Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food: //t.co/6V15dpDB reveals @family_action’s @antmccaul

  18. BevR

    Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food //t.co/tzkmHWGx #spartacus #workfare #nhssavedmylife #democracy

  19. Skipton & Ripon CLP

    Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food //t.co/tzkmHWGx #spartacus #workfare #nhssavedmylife #democracy

  20. Jenny Smith

    RT @leftfootfwd: Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food //t.co/nBk2aqt0

  21. ATD4thWorld

    Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food: //t.co/6V15dpDB reveals @family_action’s @antmccaul

  22. H. O.

    RT @leftfootfwd: Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food //t.co/TqCmt9MD

  23. Forgotten World's

    Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food. //t.co/DNSfXgyE

  24. Shades of Black

    Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food //t.co/0NgZV8rX

  25. Janet Graham

    Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food: //t.co/6V15dpDB reveals @family_action’s @antmccaul

  26. Carl Packman

    Couple that with recent figures by Credit Action that it costs an average of £28.44 per day to raise a child from birth to the age of 21. No wonder there are spikes in household debt during January (because of Christmas) and September (because of school holidays).

  27. Jayne L

    RT @leftfootfwd: Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food //t.co/GpdUSTpC

  28. Roadsyde

    This is our budget – we work RT @TheRightArticle: Tory Britain 2012: Some families only £2 per person/day for food – //t.co/IQGOiiXb

  29. Aaron Hussey

    Very proud of @antmccaul's article on @leftfootfwd as part of @family_action's #OiGeorge campaign – //t.co/p5lmzPGW

  30. Delroy Booth

    Tory Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food – //t.co/hQr9QpcJ

  31. Patrick

    Nobody is forced to have children. It’s a choice. And it’s not done out of a noble notion of self sacrifice for society; people have children because they want them. If you can’t afford them, don’t have them. Applying that principle would go a long way to stopping child poverty.

  32. Kevin Richards

    Welcome to 21st century Britian-shameful disgrace: Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food //t.co/ZfFUOWx0

  33. liane gomersall

    RT @leftfootfwd: Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food //t.co/3WIiy7Vq

  34. Newsbot9

    Ah I see, so the poor should stop breeding and only the rich should have kids. And you’re quite happy to condem people for the sins of their fathers.

    Then you’ll whine about immigration.

    Well, by your own reasoning, let’s condemn you because your parents are rich. Same principle. Let’s have some equality around here…

  35. Patrick

    You must be aware that the vast majority of people in the UK are defined neither as ‘rich’ nor ‘poor’.

    So why do you continually imply that everyone can be categorised into one of these groups?

    Re-read my post. I made no mention of ‘rich’ or ‘poor’. A person could be earning above the average wage (£26K) and still not be able to afford children because of their financial commitments. My post is not about people being rich or poor, it’s about personal responsibility, not expecting someone else to pick up the tab.

    I have the feeling that you resent anyone with any capital, no matter how they’ve earned it, what sacrifices they made to build it, or where it’s come from. Let me ask you a question:

    DO YOU THINK THE FREEDOM TO SAVE AND INVEST IS WRONG?

    Say I earn an average wage. Rather than go on holiday and buy new cars I choose to save what I can and invest in the stock market. After 10 years I’ve built up £100K. Does that make me greedy and evil and exploitative? And what moral right do you have to stop people building wealth like this?

    Answer those specific questions.

  36. Race Equality Fdn

    Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food //t.co/Fm6x7e7f

  37. SFSC

    Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food //t.co/82xFTz0X

  38. Ellie

    The bigger question is can you live on £1 a day? This is equivalent to the extreme poverty line that 1.4 billion people in the world are currently living under. This is a challenge that will be taken on by people in the UK in May who have signed up to ‘Live Below the Line’ to raise money for various charities such as RESULTS UK.

  39. Look Left – Spotlight shone on legal aid cuts as Clarke urged to think again | Left Foot Forward

    […] Action’s Anthony McCaul wrote about the findings on Left Foot Forward: The fact that some families have £2 per person per day […]

  40. Steve

    People’s incomes and financial circumstances change over time and rarely remain static or, especially in the case of women, uninterrupted. The changes are often through no fault of their own as the present situaion shows. Also, does anyone have a moral right to tell people they shouldn’t have children?

  41. Two children in every classroom go hungry | Left Foot Forward

    […] Britain 2012: Some families have only £2 per person per day for food 5 Mar […]

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