Thursday, 16 June 2011

Going to bed crying with hunger

On Tuesday morning the Radio 4 Today programme broadcast Emma Simpson talking to a family in Bournemouth. Both parents work - Dad cleaning at night and Mum a school dinner lady; they have a mortgage and need to run a car but do not have enough money for food. Often the parents go without meals to make sure the children don't go to bed crying with hunger. The report noted the rise in demand by families for food from Trussell Trust Food Banks which are organised by churches.

Later on in the same programme Paul Johnson, Director of the Financial Services Agency explained why the poorest people currently experience higher inflation than the rest of us. It's because they spend a greater proportion of income on food and fuel both of which have risen rapidly due to world commodity prices since the recession began in 2008. Better off people spend a greater proportion of their income on mortgage interest which has been low since 2008. He said the bottom fifth of the population are currently experiencing inflation of 4.5% while for the top fifth it is 2.5%.

Wages are static so inflation eats into household income, but at a higher rate for poorer people. Government used to link welfare benefit rates to the Retail Price Index but in April 2011 the Coalition Government changed it so that now rates are linked to the Comsumer Price Index which tends to rise more slowly than RPI. Over time this means the value of benefits will decrease.

Children North East has always been concerned about the impact that poverty has on children. Our mission is to ensure no child's potential is diminished due to poverty. There are going to be more children living in poverty and their lives are going to become harder.

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