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Poorest And Most Vunerable The Hardest Hit : Especially Those NOT Able To Work !!! Half Of The 8.4 Million Carer Army ? - Page 3 - Carers UK Forum

Poorest And Most Vunerable The Hardest Hit : Especially Those NOT Able To Work !!! Half Of The 8.4 Million Carer Army ?

Discuss news stories and political issues that affect carers.
216 posts
Joseph Rowntree Foundation ... the number of times they have featured over the years ... today's Independent :

https://www.independent.co.uk/money/spe ... 32991.html

Why low-income families won't ever be able to make ends meet.

The gap between low-income families and a minimum standard of living is growing.

Low-income families can’t function financially. That’s the conclusion of a new report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which shows that those with small wage packets are considerably worse off than they were 10 years ago.

In fact, they would need a third more disposable income to make ends meet, despite tightening their belts and shopping around for the best deals.

And the measure isn’t some arbitrary percentage of average incomes either. It’s a barometer of living standards in the UK based on what the public believes is necessary to achieve a decent minimum living standard.

That minimum income standard (MIS) means being above the poverty line and able to afford healthy food, a low-cost UK holiday and some after-school activities for children, among other things.

The worrying truth is that low-income households are further away from achieving that than they were in 2008. Back then, a lone parent working full-time on the minimum wage, helped by tax credits, had annual disposable income just £520 a year (3.5 per cent) short of MIS. But today they are £3,640 a year short (20 per cent).

A couple who both work full-time on the minimum wage and have two children are about £2,600 a year short of the MIS and a single breadwinner family are £6,240 short. It’s a stark change in living standards for people in low-income households.

“The past decade has been particularly difficult for families on low incomes as costs have risen faster than the Consumer Prices Index, while the support they get from the state to help cover these costs has risen more slowly,” Professor Donald Hirsch, director of the Centre for Research and Social Policy, says.

For people struggling on low incomes, the brutal truth may be that they simply cannot afford a minimum standard of living until and unless there is some change to benefits or affordability. But these increasing costs also reverberate up the income brackets, leaving many additional people struggling to manage even if their situation is not as desperate as those on the lowest incomes.

But why and how?


In the last decade, public transport has become more expensive, while the cheapest option – bus travel – has been cut. That means for households on the lowest budgets, transport costs can easily take up a fifth of their income.

Even when bus travel is available, it’s now 65 per cent more expensive than it was in 2008 and the public says you have to be prepared to travel further for work and even use taxis more when public transport is no longer an option.

At the start of this year, average rail fares rose by 3.4 per cent across the UK. Some of the most popular commuter train routes into London now cost almost £10,000 a year, meaning that even the wealthy could start to feel priced out.

Christians Against Poverty commented: “Our clients’ average income is far below the recommended minimum income standards and we recognise the struggle to pay for transport especially.” The organisation expressed concerns that some people were forced to skip meals in order to pay for transport to the Jobcentre.


The JRF study showed that on average the cost of food rose by just over a quarter between 2008 and 2018, while a minimum food budget for a single person rose from £29 to £44 a week, a rise of just over 50 per cent.

Food inflation is often more volatile than standard measures of inflation and some reports suggest it currently far exceeds the official inflation figure.

The British Retail Consortium – KPMG’s retail sales monitor – showed that in the three months to January this year, food sales had increased by 4.1 per cent, with chief executive Helen Dickinson suggesting this was being fuelled by rising food prices.

A recent poll commissioned by The Independent revealed that one in 14 British people has had to use a food bank, almost four million adults.

Energy bills

The latest study shows that energy bills are more than 40 per cent higher than they were a decade ago, even though the internet makes it easier to shop around for a better deal.

However, the situation is poised to get worse for struggling families. The average fuel poverty gap – the measure of households’ energy bills and what they can afford to pay – is forecast to expand by 9 per cent this year.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy predicts that rising fuel prices mean the average gap for households in fuel poverty will increase to £357, up from £326 in 2016.


Many adults cannot get out to work without childcare provision but the cost of securing good quality care has rocketed. The JRF research shows that the average price of a full-time nursery placement is now £229 a week, a rise of 50 per cent in 10 years alone.

A recent study published by the Family and Childcare Trust reported that many families face difficult decisions when working out if it is affordable for both parents to return to work after having children.

It highlighted that the average cost of a part-time nursery place for a child under two has soared by 7 per cent in the last year alone to £122 a week, or more than £6,300 a year.

Ellen Broome, chief executive at the Family and Childcare Trust, said: “Childcare is as vital as the rails and roads, it supports parents to work, boosts children’s outcomes and provides our economy with a reliable workforce. Too many parents remain locked out of work by high childcare costs and low availability.”


In one vital area there was some good news; people are spending less on technology but are more connected than they were 10 years ago, according to the Centre for Research in Social Policy.

Broadband, a basic laptop and smartphone cost £8 a week today for a single, working-age person, compared with the £9.50 they would have spent on a landline and pay-as-you-go phone in 2008. That’s an even greater saving when inflation at 25 per cent is factored in.

And that more affordable access to technology means consumers can shop around more easily and access better deals. Unfortunately, when prices have risen so much faster than incomes for so many people, a mad scramble for the best prices doesn’t mean that a minimum standard of living is affordable.


Clearly wearing an extra jumper indoors and sharing babysitting duties with friends isn’t enough to address this dramatic drop in affordable living standards.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “These figures show just how precarious life can be for low income households. People who live below the minimum standard say that they shop around to get the best deals and juggle to pay the bills, but the soaring cost of transport, energy and childcare means millions of families are still locked in a daily struggle to make ends meet.

“Some working parents are actually further away from reaching a decent living standard because tax credits to top up low wages have been falling at a time when families need them most. The government must put things right by allowing families to keep more of their earnings.

“This would ease the constraints the crippling cost of living places on their ability to build a better life and ensure everyone can reach a decent standard of living.”

Interlocks with more threads than I care to mention !

All under one roof.


Yes ... I agree ... it's been a very long trip on a playground slide.

Using an online inflation calcular , my income is approximately 28% of my last salary in high street banking ... some 27 years ago.

No real pressure but ... little surplus to be able to do anything major ... twirling but no rail trips , daily breaks but no holidays.

Trapped in the BTL sector ... still a decade or more to go before one has to consider a final resting place.

Prospect of finally seeing the back of debt incurred during my caring days ... almost 12 years on ... by December 2019.

Last of the Summer Astronomers meeting up the road this afternoon ... all in a similar boat ... with a sail but no engine ?

The expertise in several fields amongst our ranks just going to waste.

Repeat manor by manor ... a whole army going to seed ?
When the LAs finally run out of monies , next step will be the local lime pit ... providing , of course , they will be able to afford the lime ?

http://www.lowestoftjournal.co.uk/news/ ... -1-5618023

Anger over council’s " Dickensian " funeral system.

People who die without enough money for a cremation are being buried in unmarked communal graves.

The policy, adopted by Waveney District Council (WDC), has been branded as “Dickensian” by members of the public who feel a person’s last wishes should be respected – regardless of financial situation.

If a person were to die in Waveney and no suitable arrangements have been made for a funeral the council will organise a state-assisted, or public health, funeral.

A WDC spokesman said: “We will deal with all aspects of the funeral, including registering the death, dealing with the undertakers and organising interment or cremation.”

However if the person’s preference had been cremation the council can only meet such wishes “if financially possible”.

While the council will attempt to recover expenses through the estate left by the deceased, costs are kept to a minimum so as to be “mindful of the cost to the taxpayer”.

The spokesman added: “This means that a common grave may be used and graves will be unmarked.

“Whilst public health funerals may vary depending on the individual circumstances of the deceased, we always ensure the funeral is conducted with complete respect and dignity.”

Controversy has arisen after it was discovered that neighbouring Great Yarmouth Borough Council (GYBC) offers cremation irrespective of a person’s finances.

A borough council spokesman said: “The council always seeks to follow the person’s wishes, including any religious wishes, in relation to whether they are buried or cremated, which is sometimes stipulated in their will or known by their family.”

Similarly to WDC the Yarmouth council also adopt a communal grave system which usually sees two coffins placed in each plot.

The spokesman added: “The borough council seeks to strike a balance with Public Health Act funerals between its legal duty to arrange a cost-effective funeral, while preserving the dignity of the dead person.”

The differences in policy between the neighbouring authorities mean if a person from Waveney were to be taken to the area’s largest hospital – James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston – and died there they would be entitled to more than had they died at home.

Paul Newson, a 65-year-old landlord from Carlton Colville, was first made aware of the policy when helping an ex-tenant prepare for the funeral of their terminally ill mother.

He said: “It’s completely unfair; through no fault of their own not everyone can afford their own funeral.

“I don’t think in this day and age that’s fair.

“It seems wrong to me that if you lived in Waveney all your life but died in Great Yarmouth you can have a cremation.

“And to be buried in a nameless grave with two other people seems Dickensian.”

He added: “There’s no constant. Why should one council do one thing and the other another?

“I don’t think it should be a council decision, it should be countrywide. If you die in England you should have the option of burial or cremation.”

The landlord is not alone in his opinion; with Waveney MP Peter Aldous towing a similar line.

Mr Aldous said: “It is an issue that has been brought to my attention locally and it is also something that has been raised nationally in parliament.

“There is cross party support which I am right behind to address this particular anomaly which isn’t right and isn’t fair.”

Likewise Mark Bee, leader of WDC, has said it could be an issue to raise with the Local Government Authority (LGA) in order to implement a uniform approach across the country.

Mr Bee said: “It’s unfortunate that because of the way in which local authorities may approach these kinds of things that perversely different rates are applied to what is a tragic situation.

“This can often be the case between different authorities, counties and countries.

“One of the things we could do is take it up with the LGA.

“It is an unfortunate but unintended consequence of different authorities approaching different things in different way.”

Different councils ; different policies

While there have been calls previously for councils across the county to take a uniform approach to Public Health Act funerals this is not yet the case.

Below different councils explain its system :

Norwich City Council (NCC)

At the NCC public health funerals are always by burial rather than cremation as the crematorium is privately owned.

A spokesman added: “We use what is known as a common grave which will have had one or more burials previously.”

Fenland District Council (FDC)

“Up until recently we conducted burial as standard as we did not own a crematorium. However, with burial plots becoming scarcer, values rising and contract cremations becoming cheaper we have carried out cremations.

“Our policy for public graves is for two unrelated persons, but it has been many years since a second interment in the same grave has taken place.

Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk

“We cremate as standard unless there is a reason not to, i.e. clearly known and practiced religious grounds or a letter stating they wish to be buried.

“If the Borough was required to bury the deceased then the burial would be in a grave where the rights are un-purchased – so the families have no rights to who else if placed in the grave or what is placed on the grave.

“This would give us the right, should the Borough wish to do so, to bury other deceased in that grave. However, this has never happened.”

Breckland District Council

“Normally cremation will be the preferred option unless specified. No payment is requested unless the deceased’s estate can provide payment towards the burial.”

In the case of burial it is one plot per person.

Still , at least the deceased won't mind ?
Virtually in all main newspapers , Guardian won by a country mile ... as per usual :

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/ ... -last-year

Poorest 30% of UK households 'worse off by between £50 to £150' last year.

Thinktank says since 2010 child poverty has risen twice as fast as official figures show.

Britain’s poorest 30% of households saw an end to their post financial crash recovery last year as inflation and cuts to in-work benefits outweighed wage rises to leave them as much as £150 worse off.

The Resolution Foundation, an independent thinktank, said its audit of income and poverty levels for 2017-2018 found that income growth slowed for all households last year.

However, the lowest 30% of households found their incomes going backwards by between £50 and £150, widening the gap with middle and higher-income earners, who saw a modest rise in their living standards once benefit changes were taken into account.

The report comes at a time when the government faces accusations that cutbacks to tax credits are pushing low-income families into poverty while the successor, universal credit, is technically flawed, leading to long delays and miscalculated payments.

The thinktank said the drop in incomes for the poorest was modest at 0.3% but the impact was greater after a weak recovery in wages over the previous decade. A typical middle-income household saw a rise of only 0.9%, although this was the weakest since 2012, and a marked slowdown from the 1.6% rise in 2016-17, and the 2.5% average in the 10 years before the financial crisis.

The top 30% of households also widened the gap with the poorest 30% but incomes at the top only rose by 0.4%.

“With the middle pulling away from the bottom, child poverty is projected to have increased last year by around 3%,” the report read. “This was driven by benefit cuts that particularly hit low-income families, including the 3% real-terms fall in the value of tax credits and child benefit.”

The thinktank said a wide-ranging review of child poverty showed it fell further than official figures show in the New Labour years until 2010, taking thousands more children out of poverty than previously believed, and has risen more sharply during the period of austerity over the past eight years.

“Child poverty actually fell from 3 million in 1998-99 to around 1.6 million in 2010-2011 – rather than falling from 3.3 million to 2.3 million, with half a million more children taken out of poverty than official surveys suggest,” the report read. “This means the target to halve child poverty between 1998 and 2010 was almost met, rather than being missed by 600,000 children as previously thought.”

Since 2010 child poverty has been rising twice as fast since as official figures show, it said.

“The proportion of children in poverty has actually grown by 21% between 2011 and 2016, rather than 11%, in part because the growth is from a lower base. This has been driven by a longer-term rise in children living in poor working families, up from 30% to 39% since 2003-2004,” the report read.

Adam Corlett, a senior economic analyst at the foundation, said: “Reducing child poverty has been a goal of politicians from all parties in recent decades. But our analysis shows that child poverty is likely to have risen last year and that rises since 2010 have been underestimated in official government data.”

One doesn't need articles like these ... just have a walk around yer local manor.

Okay , for some readers , a pleasant experience.

For others , what do your eyes tell you ?

Idleness , decay , quiet ?

For many , it will only get worse as the lack of monies continues to predominate.

I wonder what the generation yet to be born will see ?
Worth including under this thread ... further education :

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2 ... roup-chief

Restore grant system for poor students, urges Russell Group chief.

Group recommends ‘living wage’ grant for students eligible for free school meals to allay debt fears.

Ministers must reinstate maintenance grants for poor students looking to go to university, the head of the group representing the leading universities has urged.

UK students from low-income families were awarded up to £3,387 a year until 2016 and the restoration of the grant system would make a “substantial difference” to people who were “nervous” about student debt, according to Tim Bradshaw, the chief executive of the Russell Group.

“I think if you give a grant to those students then you might encourage even more to consider applying for university in the first place and think it is actually something they can really aspire to – and that it won’t land them in additional debt at the end of the day,” he told the Independent.

The Russell Group – an association of 24 leading research universities in the UK – will recommend providing a “living wage” grant for students eligible for free school meals following criticism that the top universities do not admit enough students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“It could be very targeted, really cost-effective and actually make quite a substantial difference to those from disadvantaged backgrounds who may inherently be very nervous about taking on an additional loan,” he said. “Actually the grant could work in their favour.”

When asked whether the loss of maintenance grants, coupled with £9,250 annual tuition fees, could be dissuading students from poorer backgrounds going to university, Bradshaw conceded: “Yes it might be. The student loans system is very complicated and difficult to understand.”

The grants were replaced in the 2016-17 academic year by loans which students would start paying back when they earned more than £21,000 a year.

In effect, this means that the poorest students – whose parents are unable to supplement their loan, or indeed help them repay their loans – face an even greater burden of debt after their studies, which could amount to about £58,000 for a three-year course.

This could also put them off from studying in the most expensive parts of the country, such as London and Oxford.

The Russell Group has been told it needs “to go further” in improving access for disadvantaged pupils with just 6.5% of students in last year’s intake from the poorest parts of the country.

A mere 3% of school leavers admitted to the top universities were black while some Oxbridge colleges did not admit any black British students.

But Bradshaw said the government ought to make more funding available to achieve this rather than “putting all the blame on universities”.

Earlier this year, Theresa May conceded: “We now have one of the most expensive systems of university tuition in the world” as she announced a review into post-18 education funding and pledged to make it fairer.

The then chancellor George Osborne said the grants had become “unaffordable” when he scrapped them in the 2015 budget.

He said it was a “basic unfairness in asking taxpayers to fund grants for people who are likely to earn a lot more than them”, as he announced the changes that would be “fair to students, fair to taxpayers and vital to secure our long-term economic future”.

However, Sir Peter Lampl, founder of the Sutton Trust – a leading educational charity – said the reforms could put many low- and middle-income students off the idea of going to university.

In a speech on social mobility last week, the education secretary, Damian Hinds said it was “not acceptable” that 18-year-old applicants from the most well-off parts of the UK remain “nearly five-and-a-half times more likely” to go to the most selective universities than their disadvantaged peers.

Social mobility ... difficult if one needs qualifications to take the first step.

And , what a price to pay ?

Saddled with debt , where is our student now qualified going to live ?

Afford to buy a house ... with that amount of debt already ?

Lad / lass from my manor , Worksop , would stand no chance !
Ground zero ... public transport ... particularly in the North of England :

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/201 ... nding-work

Unreliable public transport 'stops poor families finding work.'

Families in north of England struggle to find jobs because of poor and expensive public transport, research finds

Unaffordable and unreliable public transport is cutting off the poorest families in the north of England from crucial job opportunities, a study has found.

Researchers from Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Sheffield, commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), interviewed residents in neighbourhoods across Greater Manchester and Leeds city regions.

Interviewees complained that local transport was expensive, unreliable and slow, making it harder for them to attend job interviews and hold on to paid employment.

The research found that residents were reliant on buses, as running a car and taking the train were too expensive.

Workers complained they were unable to guarantee punctuality because buses were frequently late, meaning they were disregarded by potential employers. The report found that job seekers often turned down jobs because their potential earnings were too low compared with the high transport costs.

The report highlighted the fact that low-skilled manual work in manufacturing or in warehouses was often in locations on the edge of towns and cities that was underserved by public transport.

A 49-year-old interviewee from Leeds expressed frustration at the disconnect: “There’s a place called Sherburn-in-Elmet and they have tons of work, big industrial estate, but there’s no bus service, it’s about 13 miles away. I do not understand why they build a big estate where there’s no transport. If you haven’t got a car you can’t have a job.”

The JRF said the report’s findings undermined advice from the Department for Work and Pensions and Jobcentre Plus that workers should search for roles up to 90 minutes from their homes, as the distance could be simply inaccessible.

A 30-year-old from Dewsbury Moor, in West Yorkshire, spoke of the dwindling help from his Jobcentre Plus: “They do not offer any advice or support with transport issues. Every now and again, an adviser will look up the nearest bus route for you, but don’t look at the practicalities of it.”

Brian Robson, the JRF’s acting head of policy and research, said the government should invest in transport networks within cities not just between them.

“Currently unaffordable and unreliable public transport is holding people back from being able to achieve a better standard of living,” he said. “With more powers being devolved to city and local leaders, now is the time to redesign our transport, housing and economic policies so that everyone can get into work and progress in their careers.”

Ed Ferrari, director of regional economic and social research at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “Buses are the backbone of local public transport in Britain and the key to employment and training opportunities for many. But problems with high fares, poor coordination between different providers and services, and lack of reliability seriously hamper the ability of low-income groups to commute to more distant jobs.

“Fundamental weaknesses in the way that bus services are regulated and subsidised are effectively locking the poorest out of the opportunities within the modern economy. Policymakers in Britain need to see investment in high quality local transport systems as an investment in national productivity and tackling inequality.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “The government is spending more than £13bn through to 2020 to transform transport across the north – the biggest investment any government in history has ever made. We have also given councils extra powers to work in partnership with bus companies to improve the services passengers expect and deserve.

“We recognise that buses are vital in connecting people, homes and businesses, and we provide around £250m every year to support these services up and down the country.”

Worksop ... my manor ... all buses travelling to destinations outside of Worksop stop at , around , 6pm daily ... skeleton service of one every 2 hours on a Sunday / Public Holiday.

Mirror that service across many towns and cities and one can see the problem ?
More analysis ... and more revelations :


Lowest-paid parents 'can't afford basic lifestyle.'

Low-earning parents working full-time are still unable to earn enough to provide their family with a basic, no-frills lifestyle, research suggests.

A single parent on the National Living Wage is £74 a week short of the minimum income needed, according to the Child Poverty Action Group.

A couple with two children would be £49 a week short of the income needed, the charity said.

But this was better than last year, when couples were £59 a week short.

The National Living Wage is currently £7.83 an hour for those aged over 25.

A government spokesperson said fewer families were living in absolute poverty.

"The employment rate is at a near-record high and the National Living Wage has delivered the highest pay increase for the lowest paid in 20 years, worth £2,000 extra per year for a full-time worker," the spokesperson added.

But the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) said gains from modest increases in wages had been "clawed back" through the freezing of tax credits.

Rising prices and changes to various benefit schemes had also "hit family budgets hard", it said.

Funding essentials

The CPAG's definition of a "no-frills" lifestyle is based on the Minimum Income Standard, a set of criteria drawn up by the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University.

It calculates the income required for a minimum standard of living based on essentials such as food, clothes and accommodation, as well as "other costs required to take part in society".

The research centre asks focus groups drawn from a mixture of socio-economic backgrounds what they think a household would have to be able to afford in order to achieve an acceptable living standard.

The charity's Cost of a Child report showed that the overall cost for a couple raising a first child until they are 18 also fell from £155,100 to £150,800.

The cost of bringing up children was heavily influenced by childcare, with full-time childcare accounting for almost half the total sum.

Child costs 'substantial'

CPAG's chief executive Alison Garnham said there was "strong public support" for the government to top up the wages of low-paid parents.

She urged the government to use November's Budget to "unfreeze benefits and restore work allowances".

"Income from work alone is not sufficient to enable some to meet their families' needs to escape poverty and the cost of a child is substantial," she added.

Work is the passport to a better standard of living ... so we are told.

And yet , subidies galore out there ... WTCs and child care costs ... so that the lower paid can survive by working,

On the housing front .... Housing Benefit ... as rents are too high for many.

Living costs too high / wages too low.

Another fine mess you've got us into ... Stanley ?
Now , London Transport get in on the act :

London bus cuts to hit working-class hardest, says watchdog.

TfL cuts to include routes used by workers living on outskirts to reach low-paid, central jobs.

Tim Bellenger, the director for policy and investigation at London TravelWatch, said: “The price of privately rented accommodation and benefit changes mean low-paid workers are having to move further out of London, but many of them still work in zones 1 and 2.

“Their choices are to either spend a significant amount of their wages on travel costs or they have to spend an awful lot of time travelling on a bus.”

He added: “We are concerned about the impact on low-paid workers, the elderly and people with reduced mobility of having to take interchange buses.”
Well , well ... who would have believed this ? .... :

https://www.theguardian.com/society/201 ... rity-in-uk

Evidence to UN highlights extreme poverty in UK.

Philip Alston’s visit investigating extreme poverty in the UK likely to cause political row in Britain

A disabled former soldier who said he is so poor that he lost 16kg (2st 7lb) due to a lack of food is among the contributors to the first United Nations investigation into extreme poverty into the UK.

Alexander Tiffin, a 30-year old from the Scottish Highlands, sent a diary of his life on universal credit to Prof Philip Alston, the UN rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, who is coming to Britain in November.

The eminent international human rights lawyer called for submissions from anyone in the UK to establish “the most significant human rights violations experienced by people living in poverty and extreme poverty in the UK”. He is interested in the impact of austerity, universal credit, the advent of computer algorithms making decisions on welfare matters, and Brexit.

Anyone taking part has been asked to set out in no more than 2,500 words what is happening, where he should go and what he should look at. He has set a deadline of 14 September for submissions and academics, thinktanks and charities are among those drafting responses.

The visit is set to be politically controversial. Alston conducted a similar exercise in the US earlier this year, which resulted in public clashes with the Trump administration. In the UK, he wants to know “to what extent austerity has been necessary” and its impact on public services including police, firefighting and libraries.

He will also consider how Brexit might affect people living in poverty. Alston defines extreme poverty as “a lack of income, a lack of access to basic services, and social exclusion”.

The government has already said in response that household incomes “have never been higher and there are 1 million fewer people living in absolute poverty than in 2010, including 300,000 children”.

The Centre for Social Justice, a right-leaning thinktank founded by Iain Duncan Smith, who set up universal credit as work and pensions secretary, said it will not make a submission.

“Universal credit is one of the most effective poverty-fighting tools in existence,” said Edward Davies, the head of policy. “When it is fully rolled out, hundreds of thousands more people will have a job as a result.”

Tiffin’s diary of life on universal credit is among the most striking contributions so far. The wheelchair user told Alston he is living off £95.35 a fortnight in universal credit payments and that after paying for his electricity and gas, fuel for his adapted car, broadband connection, TV licence and baby milk for his youngest son, he is left with £10.50 for two weeks.

“At one time in February, I had no food at all for two weeks,” he wrote. “I probably ate on less than a quarter of the days in that month. I just had nothing. I lost two and a half stone … my hair has started falling out and my teeth are loose due to a lack of vitamin intake.”

On 8 May, he wrote: “I wanted to be able to make myself some sandwiches, so I bought a loaf of bread for 45p and a small block of cheese for £1.72. This left me with £3.30 [with 10 days to go until the next payment]. I must admit I felt bad after buying it as I shouldn’t have wasted the money.”

Tiffin has suffered from mental health problems. He is a Muslim convert and was recently admonished by a court for threatening to kill unbelievers. Police considered he was “an idiot” rather than a terrorist and he was not punished. He said the incident occurred when he was going through a complete breakdown.

Human Rights Watch, an organisation more often associated with defending rights in countries such as Russia, China, Syria, and India, is planning to tell Alston about food poverty in the UK.

“There is a lot of hunger that goes under the radar, ranging from parents skipping meals, kids showing up to school hungry, and schools and families relying on low-cost, redistributed surplus food to make ends meet,” said Kartik Raj, a HRW researcher for western Europe.

“People have a right to food and an adequate standard of living. These are human rights the government is obliged to ensure under international treaties it has signed. If the fifth largest economy in the world is failing to ensure that basic minimum, or letting things get worse, particularly for those who are least well off, then that is certainly something we will be bringing to the rapporteur’s attention.”

The Trussell Trust, which runs food banks, said it will tell Alston how food bank use rose 52% in areas where universal credit was rolled out, compared with 14% where it wasn’t or had only just been launched.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation said it will urge Alston to examine how tougher benefit sanctions lead to greater destitution, which means people not being able to keep warm, fed, dry and clean. It found that last year 1.5 million people fell into destitution at some point – just over one in 50 people – with the highest levels in Manchester, Liverpool and Middlesbrough.

“Destitution cuts off your ability to have a decent life and affects mental and physical health and the opportunities for you and your children in the future,” said Chris Goulden, a deputy director of the JRF.

Aoife Nolan, a professor of international human rights law at the University of Nottingham, said: “The key issue he has to come and see is welfare reform, deliberate actions which have negatively impacted the enjoyment of human rights for disabled people and children in particular.”

The right to an adequate standard of living is enshrined in the UN convention on the rights of the child and, Nolan said, it is being breached because these rights were not being extended as they should and minimum thresholds are being breached.

The government has said it is its policy to accept and facilitate visits by UN rapporteurs

Make of that what you will.

For many readers , a walk around one's manor is enough ... ?
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