A near empty food cupboard. Photo: Oxfam.

Over a third of working parents on low incomes have found themselves having to skip meals because of not having enough money to put food on the table, according to the results of a damning survey commissioned by the Living Wage Foundation (LWF).

A Survation poll of 1,016 UK parents working full time and earning less than the real Living Wage found that 37 per cent regularly skip meals due to financial reasons, while 43 per cent had fallen behind on household bills.

LWF say the results of the poll highlight the need for a real Living Wage, as low-paid parents are forced into making “desperate choices”.

The poll also found that 29 per cent had behind on mortgage or rent payments, 37 per cent had topped up their income with a credit card or loan, 22 per cent had taken out a payday loan to cover essential purchases, 51 per cent had borrowed money from a friend or relative, 30 per cent had walked to work to save cash, and 55 per cent had to decline a social invitation.

“These findings reveal the desperate choices low paid families have to make.”Tess Lanning – Living Wage Foundation

On April 1st the Government’s so-called ‘National Living Wage‘ increased from £7.50 to £7.83 an hour, but LWF say someone working full-time on the real Living Wage would take home almost £1,800 more a year, enough to pay for  six months worth of food and drink bills for an average household.

Tess Lanning, Director of the Living Wage Foundation, said: “These findings reveal the desperate choices low paid families have to make, and show why it’s so important that more employers take a stand by paying the real Living Wage, based on what they need to live, not just the government minimum.”

Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Margaret Greenwood MP, said: “These shocking findings lay bare the reality of life on low pay for working families in the UK.

“Parents are skipping meals, falling behind on basic household bills and walking to work because they cannot afford fares.”

She added: “People are working hard for their families, but the Tories are failing them by leaving them at risk of debt and hunger.”

A Trussell Trust foodbank. Photo credit: Newfrontiers via photopin cc

The Trussell Trust’s Foodbank Network provided 1,182,954 three day emergency food supplies to people in crisis in the financial year 2016-17, compared to 1,109,309 in 2015-16 – a shocking 436,938 of these went to children.

According to the charity, the main reason given for referrals was low-income (26.49%), while the second most common reason was delays in benefit payments.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Nobody should be forced to skip meals because of poverty pay and no business model should depend on its workers running on empty.

“The government must raise the minimum wage to £10 an hour as quickly as possible so that millions more workers get a wage they can live on.”