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Poverty: One in three working parents unable to afford meals, study finds

AT LEAST a third of parents in work are often skipping meals because they struggle to afford enough food for their families, a new study published today reveals.

More than one in three working parents cannot afford to have regular meals, according to research by the Living Wage Foundation.

The organisation said this demonstrates the “desperate choices” low-income families have to make.

A survey of 1,000 adults found two out of five of them had fallen behind on household bills, while a similar number top up their monthly income with a credit card or loan.

Half of them said they had borrowed money from a friend or relative and almost one in three walk to work to save on travel costs.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Margaret Greenwood said: “These shocking findings lay bare the reality of life on low pay for working families in the UK.

“Parents are skipping meals, falling behind on basic household bills and walking to work because they cannot afford fares.”

Mr Greenwood said that nearly half of part-time jobs are paid below the living wage and over two-thirds of those are done by women.

“People are working hard for their families, but the Tories are failing them by leaving them at risk of debt and hunger,” she added.

In London, the real living wage is set at £10.20 an hour and £8.75 outside the capital. This is much higher than the government’s so-called national living wage of £7.83 for those over the age of 25.

Living Wage Foundation director Tess Lanning said: “These findings reveal the desperate choices low-paid families have to make and show why it’s so important that more employers take a stand by paying the real living wage, based on what they need to live, not just the government minimum.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Nobody should be forced to skip meals because of poverty pay and no business model should depend on its workers running on empty.

“The government must raise the minimum wage to £10 an hour as quickly as possible so that millions more workers get a wage they can live on.”

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