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Extreme poverty rising

Frontline health and social workers report shocking rise in destitution
Ryan Fletcher, Monday, July 15th, 2019

More than half of families visited by child support workers are destitute, a new survey of social workers and health visitors has revealed.


The survey of 1,200 frontline support professionals found that as many as 54 per cent of all households they have come into contact with lack permanent accommodation and necessities such as heating, clothing and food.


Three quarters of the support workers surveyed by child poverty charity Buttle UK said they have witnessed a rise in the number of destitute families during the last 12 months.


Destitution is defined by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation as having gone without two or more essentials during the past month because of a lack of money.


There has also been an increase in the number of working families unable to afford the basics, the report said.


Nearly half (49 per cent) of the frontline support workers surveyed said they regularly deal with working families who can’t get by on their wages.


Buttle UK CEO, Joe Howes, said, “Destitution is a shocking word and should have no place in a country which is the fifth wealthiest in the world.”


Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner condemned the Tories’ record on child poverty.


“Tackling child poverty needs urgent action and the solutions are well within our grasp – now more than ever after the likely economic shocks of Brexit we need a complete break from the policies of austerity,” Turner said.


“We must have a policy of economic investment to grow decent, well-paid jobs and a comprehensive social security system – we need it for the sake of our children and their futures.”


The survey’s publication came as health visitors employed by Lincolnshire county council went on strike for 48 hours over not getting paid the rate for the job and the erosion of their professional responsibilities which could adversely impact vulnerable families.


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