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One in four regular food bank users in low-paid work

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Up to one-quarter of those who regularly rely on food banks are in work but on low wages, according to a report by the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger.

The report Feeding Britain makes a number of recommendations designed to alleviate hunger among British families. They include affording the Low Pay Commission rights to set higher national minimum wage rates, to align with the living wage, in sectors that can afford them.

Finance and banking are two of the sectors targeted. The report recommends that these rates should apply to all sub-contractors, such as cleaning and catering staff, performing roles within these sectors.

For industries in which an immediate roll-out of living wage would be likely to cause job losses, such as retail and social care, the report suggests putting in place “interim packages” for the lowest-paid workers. These include retail discounts and incremental pay increases, designed to form part of a “roadmap to the living wage”.

A section in the report, while welcoming the government’s decision to raise the national minimum wage to £6.50 per hour, warns that there are more fundamental problems leading to in-work poverty in the UK.

“Clearly something troubling is happening at the bottom of our labour market,” it reads. “As it is in many advanced Western economies.

“Too many of the submissions we received, from food bank workers and clients themselves, testify that the national minimum wage is too low to provide a failsafe system against hunger, even with the substantial subsidies taxpayers make to those wage levels through tax credits.”