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Saturday 21st
posted by Malcolm Burns in Britain

SCOTTISH families are being forced to choose whether to “heat or eat,” the Poverty Truth Commission said yesterday.

Its new report Turning Up the Volume On Poverty concludes that welfare cuts are “breaking people’s spirits” and said the scale of the problem in Scotland, one of the richest countries in the world, is “a scandal.”

The commission — made up of people struggling against poverty in their daily lives, along with religious, political and community leaders — will meet in Glasgow today to reveal the human stories on which it is based.

One commissioner described their own dilemma, which is faced by many of the poorest in our communities: “I have to switch off my electric in the winter as I cannot afford to put money in the meter.

“Three days before my giro payment it comes down to ‘heat or eat’ as often I cannot afford to do both.”

The commission, established in 2009 by the Faith in Community charity, pulled no punches over the scale of the problem.

“Over 20 per cent of children are growing up in poverty,” it said.

“The rise in the number of people visiting foodbanks is shocking.

“As very low wages fail to keep pace with the cost of essentials, over half of those in poverty are also in paid work.”

It condemned energy privateers for charging higher rates on pre-payment meters and slammed the “dramatic” rise in sanctions imposed on benefit claimants for minor trespasses.

The commission urged landlords to improve insulation and urged Holyrood and Westminster to set up a not-for-profit energy company.