Millions of working people struggle to put food on the table, poll shows

1 in 5 working people are skipping meals because of running out of money.

Millions of working people are having to regularly skip meals because they cannot afford to put food on the table, according to a damning new poll from the Trade Union Congress (TUC).

According to the online poll of 2,700 individuals, 20% said they often skip meals because of running out of cash.


When the TUC asked the same question in 2017, 1 in 8 (13%) workers reported skipping main meals because they were short of money.

The poll also found that 1 in 5 workers (19%) went without heating when it was cold, 1 in 10 (10%) could not pay their rent or mortgage on time, and 1 in 5 (20%) had pawned or sold something because they were short of money.

When asked by the TUC how they would deal with an unexpected £500 bill, 30% said they wouldn’t be able to pay – up from 24% in 2017. And of those that could pay, 24% said they would have to go into debt or sell something. 

A quarter of respondents reported running out of money at the end of most weeks or months, while a further 16% had to cut down or stop spending many times a year.

Two-fifths of those polled (41%) said that pay not keeping up with living costs is among their biggest concerns at work.

TUC says the growth in insecure work, such as zero-hours jobs, low pay and weak wage growth are fuelling a “living standards crisis”.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Having a job should mean you can provide a decent life for your family. But after a decade of low pay, rising insecurity and public spending cuts, millions of working people are struggling to afford even the basics.

“Any responsible Prime Minister would be urgently dealing with Britain’s cost of living crisis. But instead Boris Johnson is threatening to make things much worse by forcing through a no-deal Brexit.

“He must stop playing games with people’s livelihoods and rule out no deal once and for all.

“Working people need a government that will get pay rising and rebuild Britain.”

Margaret Greenwood MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said: “This damning evidence shows the reality of life on low pay for millions of workers who struggle to make ends meet.

“Families are being left with impossible choices of whether to pay for food, heating or rent. Instead of addressing low pay and insecure work, Boris Johnson is threatening a no deal Brexit that would have a disastrous impact on jobs and living standards.

“Labour will ban zero hour contracts, introduce a real living wage of at least £10 an hour and invest in the economy to create decent jobs and end the scandal of in-work poverty.”

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