Poor People in Twenty First Century UK Can’t Afford to Heat Their Food

“We said in April that the increasing numbers of people turning to food banks should be a wake-up call to the nation, but there has been no policy response and the situation is getting worse”

‘As a nation we need to accept that something is wrong and that we need to act now to stop UK hunger getting worse.’
Trussell Trust executive chairman Chris Mould :

Increasing numbers of  people are having to resort to food banks as more families than ever before are suffering from poverty. The Trussell Trust alone has reported that more than 350,000 people between April and September of this year  were  given a three-day food package –  this is three times as many as during the same period last year. Even more shocking, the Trussell Trust has said that some people are so poor that they have returned food that requires cooking because they cannot afford the electricity to heat it!
Read more:

It is an outrage that In modern-day UK 13 million people live below the poverty line. As unbelievable as this may seem in twenty-first century UK there are people so poor they cannot afford the electricity to heat up donated food. yes I have repeated that fact again as it is just so unthinkable you cannot quite get your head round it can you!

The reasons for this are:

Welfare Reforms:
The coalition government’s vicious welfare reforms, or more precisely cuts in benefits, have plunged many people into poverty. These drastic and unfair cuts range from reduction in amount received to a complete cessation of benefits when seriously sick and severely disabled people are told they are fit for work and have their benefits stopped. These cuts include the bedroom tax which since it’s introduction has plunged many deeper into poverty:

Peter Browne, 42, an unemployed former chef, is wondering how he will get by when £11 of his £71-a-week jobseekers allowance is swallowed up this month by the bedroom tax. He wants to move to a one-bed flat but there are none available. Until there are “it pretty much means heating or eating.”

Browne spends about £5 a week on gas now but he expects that to rise to £12 in the winter. He aims to restrict his food budget to £2 a week. Packets of noodles for 12p, and tins of spaghetti for 19p are on his shopping list. Time your visit right, he reckons, and you can get a nearly-out-of-date loaf of bread from Asda for 6p.

Read More;

Heat or eat? Or take out a loan, do both, and hope for the best? http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/oct/01/heat-eat-loan-liverpool

Here is a report on the accumulative affects of benefit cuts.

The Centre for Welfare Reform, on behalf of the Campaign for a Fair
Society, has done its own analysis:

A Fair Society? – How the cuts target disabled people.
Using the government’s own figures, it is clear that by 2015, in England alone, local government and housing will be cut by £16.2 billion. This is a cut in real terms of 41.9%. Social care for children and adults makes up 60% of all spending over which local authorities have any control. Data collected over the past two years indicates that social care has already been cut by nearly £4 billion, and will be cut by £8 billion by 2015, a cut of about 33%.
Benefits for disabled people and the poorest will also have been cut by £18 billion, a cut of about 20%.

Read the full report

Low wages:
Basic minimum wage for people 21 and over is only £6.31, 18 to 20 £5.03, under 18 £3.72 and an apprentice gets just £2.68. Shocking right? Many people get less. The fact that someone can be working for £ 2.80 an hour in modern-day Britain is scandalous! Not that £6.31 is a lot either if you are supporting a family – or indeed for a single person who has the same rent/ mortgage, heating and so on as a family. Time to pay a living wage to everyone who works and a living benefit for those unfortunate enough not to be able to work as a result of unemployment or illness and disability. Regardless of the job we do, all people have the same needs whether it is the fat cat executive or the road sweeper,  both need to earn enough to provide shelter, food, warmth, clothing and the means to have a fulfilling life! People want more from life than enslavement to greedy corporations working away their precious lives to make another rich while they themselves struggle to afford even the basics in life.

Over 250 million people are unemployed and many of those who are, are on zero hour contracts, temporary jobs and part-time work.

Price Rises:
Huge rises in the cost of food and other commodities have plunged people into poverty – what has not risen in price? Rents for one thing as greedy landlords have hiked rents taking advantage of an already difficult situation. Private rents now have reached a record high with Rents across England and Wales reaching a record of £757 a month on average in September after jumping by 1.8% month-on-month,

Massive Increases in the cost of energy – New increases for all of us as SSE and British Gas hike their prices by extortionate levels of 8,2 per cent and 9.2 per cent respectively. The rest of course will follow helping to confirm the belief  that they operate as a cartel.

Note the following in the Daily Mirror article :”The group is also introducing a new fixed standard charge of 26p a day for all customers – which will impact another 6.1 million 

For most everyone except the very rich the cost of living has risen far more than the incomes of the vast majority of the UK population with benefit claimants, which includes state pensions, and the low paid and unemployed being worst effected of course.

I know that there are many desperately poor people here in the UK as a result of welfare reforms and low wages and indeed my family and I struggle to make ends meet and things are getting worse including not being able to adequately heat our home and when it is cold we spend most of the day feeling chilled as we dare not set the thermostat to more than 60 degrees. The cost of heating our home is like having to pay another mortgage, right now I sit here in an unheated room, but to not be able to afford to heat your food beggars belief.

I think many people, even those of us who campaign against the onslaught of austerity that has destroyed people lives, still do not fully understand the severity of poverty that exists here in the UK. After all people who are so desperately poor that they cannot heat their food may not have Internet access and therefore suffer in silence not knowing what to do or where to turn. They have no voice or at least their problems are less likely to be generally known.

The fact that in the sixth richest country in the world people struggle to afford the basics of life such as heating for their homes, food for their families and affordable shelter,  is immoral to the extreme. With 80 billionaires and 509,000 millionaires – a rise of 98,000 since last year and more than any other European county – it is a disgrace. It is immoral when bankers get big bonuses while people go cold and hungry. It is immoral that MPs, many of whom are millionaires including Cameron and Miliband, get huge pay rises while working people live on a pittance of low wages and or inadequate benefits and have to send their children to school hungry.

Do hungry children exist? Teachers say so. Parents say so, though they may go without to give kids toast for tea.

Read More:

With 4000 food banks already in place the Trussell Trust plan to provide one in each town and city.

Consider the following  :
A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity
Ralph Nader

While this is very commendable and a godsend for struggling hungry people the need for such charities as food banks should have no place in any socially progressive society in a rich country such as the UK .

The government’s welfare reforms need to be overturned and a more fair system put in its place. Sick and disabled people have and are continuing to suffer poverty and deprivation and mental anguish as a consequence of draconian reforms that have resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, some of whom  died shortly after undergoing the Atos Work Capability Assessment, and many suicides.

The unemployed need to receive sufficient benefits in order to pay rent/ mortgage, food, heating and clothing which are the very basic essentials surely

The scandal of working people needing food banks is a disgrace beyond words but it seems that increasingly more and more people who work are paid such low wages that they cannot afford the very basics of life. To get a situation where people dare not turn on the electricity to cook their food is shocking in the extreme. Time for a raise in the basic minimum wage to at least the so-called livable wage of £7.45 – for London £8.55 –  an improvement of course, but in my opinion not enough

Please click the following links and read the stories of people who through no fault of their own have to resort to food banks including an Afghan veteran who, after suffering post traumatic stress disorder following his time serving in Afghanistan, struggled to find a job and was evicted. As a vegan and pacifist of course I am opposed to armed conflict nonetheless I consider it an outrage when this country turns its back on those who risk their lives for what they consider is right. Shame on the UK for not looking after members of the armed forces who are now as a consequence of their service sick and or disabled.

Also see the stories of  Andrew, Tereza and Neil  told in this Guardian article:

Food bank Britain: ‘I didn’t ask to be ill’

Note Burton-Fullick needs new glasses, but can’t afford them and he and his partner’s immersion heater broke 18 months ago but they don’t have the money to get it fixed. Often it is more than not affording food and often such essentials as replacement glasses and the repairs of such as an immersion heater are not considered. To do without either is a considerable detriment particulary for a sick and disabled person.

Action you can take

Please sign the WOW Petition which calls for : A Cumulative Impact Assessment of all cuts and changes affecting sick & disabled people, their families and carers, and a free vote on repeal of the Welfare Reform Act.

The Trussell Trust has written to the Prime Minister calling on him to look into the ‘scandalous’ problem of food poverty. Perhaps you could do the same. Follow the lead of the Trussell Trust and write to David Cameron and express your outrage that in rich UK people do not have enough to eat or can afford to use  their electricity to cook their food let lone heat their homes. Yes I know he is unlikely to read it personally, but someone will read it and we need to make our feelings known on the matter. The more people who write the better.

Mr David Cameron, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA

Or contact you constituency MP.

Please write even if he or she is Labour,  don’t rely on the Labour party to change much of any of the disastrous polices of the last two years, particularly welfare reforms.


Video: Angry Dennis Skinner takes David Cameron to task over ATOS after victim waiting for appeal dies


Details of benefit changes



2 thoughts on “Poor People in Twenty First Century UK Can’t Afford to Heat Their Food

  1. I’ve never had a job where being able to save money existed. The UK sucks! I am now on the sick and am better of for being ill and unable to work. It really pays to be ill in this country, it doesn’t pay to work anymore!

    • Likewise neither my husband nor I ever had a job that paid enough to save. It is the same for most people here in the UK. Most jobs just about pay your bills, if you’re lucky that is and in recent years many jobs don’t even pay enough for this with many people resorting to food banks even when there are two people in a family who are working. You are right it does not pay to work, but benefits also do not provide enough to live on and as with working people many people on benefits have to resort to food banks and are continually being reduced to a state of poverty by vicious welfare reforms. This country benefits only the super rich. You are right the UK sucks. This vile government is under investigation by the UN for its shameful treatment of sick and disable people, which has never happened before. Time for change.

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