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Coalition government 'driving families further into poverty'

THE coalition government was accused yesterday of continuing to drive Britain’s low-income families further and further into poverty — to the point where they cannot even afford to feed themselves.

Independent charity the Joseph Rowntree Foundation published a report exposing how the ever-increasing gap between prices and wages is leaving low-income families struggling to meet the costs of basic essentials.

The Foundation warned that since 2008 the price of essentials had soared by 28 per cent, while average wages increased by just nine per cent.

The government responded by saying tax cuts — which have handed hundreds of millions of pounds to the wealthy — are a benefit to low-earners.

But the foundation’s chief executive Julia Unwin said: “These figures show there is still a lot of work needed to make up the lost ground for low-income families. The income they need to make ends meet has soared at a time when their ability to make up the shortfall is severely constrained.”

She said action was needed to “to help alleviate the pressure on the worst-off households.”

The foundation’s research identified the levels of wages needed for individuals and families to “afford a minimum acceptable standard of living.”

It said single people need to be paid £16,300 a year before tax while a couple with two children need to bring in a total of £40,600 before tax — an impossibility for most low-wage earners.

The figures are based on the foundation’s “minimum income standard,” which sets out the basics to be included in a minimum household budget according to public opinion.

Report author Abigail Davis said: “Throughout the past few difficult years, the people we talk to have held a consistent view of what it means to live at an acceptable level in the UK.

“It means being able to afford to feed your family and heat your home properly, but also having enough to buy a birthday present for your children, and to spend time with your family away from home, such as the occasional meal out.

“The growing number of people who fall below this standard are unable to afford basic goods, services and activities that most of us would take for granted.”

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