CHILDREN are starting school underweight, hungry and anaemic, a committee of MPs warned yesterday, and teachers’ union NUT blamed Tory cuts as responsible for this ‘shameful situation’.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger have produced a shocking new report entitled ‘Britain’s not-so-hidden hunger’. Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: ‘It is shocking that children in modern day Britain have to cope with malnutrition and hunger as part of their everyday experience.
‘Teachers know only too well the impact that poverty has on pupil’s learning and general wellbeing. No one can learn and play effectively when they are feeling miserable and tired through hunger. The government must take note of this parliamentary report and realise the damage that cuts to benefits and low wages has on the population.
‘We are clearly not all in this together. As one of the richest countries in the world, foodbanks should not be a necessity and children should not be undernourished. The inequalities that are widening in our society must be addressed. The Conservative Government need to take urgent steps to rectify this shameful situation.’
Meanwhile, the amount of desperate families that have been driven to foodbanks to avoid starvation has hit a record high, The Trussell Trust reported. Trade union, Unite, said yesterday that this sharp rise in the use of foodbanks highlights ‘burning inequality’ blighting the UK.
The union contrasted the more than one million three-day supplies of goods, handed out by the Trussell Trust, with the almost £14 million pay package earmarked for the BP chief executive Bob Dudley.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: ‘Following hard on the heels of the billions stashed abroad by the rich and powerful we have today’s heart-rending report from the Trussell Trust that hundreds of thousands of our fellow-citizens, including children, are struggling, one step away from starvation, in the fifth richest economy in the world.
‘If anything demonstrated the fierce and burning inequality engulfing our country, it is the repugnant contrast between a rich elite who can enjoy tax-light arrangements for the cash they have squirreled away in the British Virgin Islands with the tales of daily despair emanating from the trust’s 424 foodbanks.
‘Most of those using food banks are in work, but are referred to the trust because of low wages and benefit delays brought about by this government’s chaotic welfare upheaval. What will it take for this government to accept that six years of mindless austerity not only fail economically but cause tremendous human misery?
‘Wages are still £40-a-week down on 2010 levels and personal debt remains the highest in Europe, but it is children who are bearing the brunt of hard-hearted ministerial policies.’
Latest figures published by The Trussell Trust show that food bank use remains at record levels, rising two per cent on last year. 1,109,309 three-day emergency food supplies were provided to people in crisis by the charity’s 424 foodbanks in the 2015/16 financial year, compared to 1,084,604 in 2014/15. Of this number, 415,866 went to children.