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Issue date
  • New MRP poll reveals that in some parts of the UK nearly 1 in 4 people are going hungry
  • More than half of Britons cutting back on heating, hot water and electricity
  • Stark findings published as government scales back energy support and decides on whether to uprate benefits in line with inflation
  • Government must focus on getting pay rising, says TUC
  • 7 in 10 support £15 minimum wage

1 in 7 people in the UK are skipping meals or going without food, a new TUC mega poll has revealed today (Tuesday).

The MRP poll of 10,000 people, reveals how the cost of living emergency is hitting family budgets in every single parliamentary constituency – and that more government action is needed to raise wages and cut bills.

Skipping meals

The poll – carried out for the TUC by Opinium – shows that 1 in 7 (14%) people across the UK are having to skip meals or go without food to make ends meet.

However, in nearly 50 (47) parliamentary constituencies this number rises to 1 in 5 (20%) or above.

Birmingham Ladywood has the highest (29%) number of constituents having to skip meals or miss out on food, followed by Dundee West (27%), Glasgow (24%) and Rhondda (24%).

In the Cities of London and Westminster – home to Parliament and Downing Street – well over a fifth (23%) of local people are missing out on meals and food.

The proportion of people across the UK skipping meals is the same for people in work and people out of work (14%).

Cutting back on food spending

The mega survey also reveals that over two-fifths (44%) of Britons are having to cut back on food spending.

This proportion varies again in different parts of the country.

In Bootle, Birmingham Ladywood and Liverpool Walton, 6 in 10 constituents are cutting back on food spending.

However, in wealthier constituencies like Richmond Park and Chelsea and Fulham this still affects 3 in 10 local residents.

Rising bills

The poll - published in the same week the government reduced long-term support for energy bills - shows households across Britain are still deeply worried about rising bills.

Over half (55%) of the population are cutting back on heating, hot water or electricity.

And in some parts of the country this number is higher:

  • In Health Secretary’s Therese Coffey’s Suffolk Coastal seat 6 in 10 (59%) of constituents are using less heating, hot water and electricity.
  • In Bury North – the most marginal parliamentary constituency – three-fifths (59%) of local people are cutting down on hot water, heating and electricity.

1 in 12 (8%) of those polled report missing payment of a household bill.

However, this number skyrockets to 1 in 3 for constituents living in the Cities of London and Westminster (33%), and to 1 in 5 in Birmingham Ladywood, Barking and Hendon

Wages and benefits

The TUC says the findings were a “stark reminder” of the cost living pressures facing households throughout the UK.

The union body says the government must:

  • Stick to plans to uprate universal credit, benefits and pensions in line with inflation, and bring forward this uprating to before April. This must be the first step on a route to higher levels of universal credit, benefits and pensions.
  • Impose a much higher windfall tax on oil and gas companies
  • Get pay rising across the economy by backing trade unions and allowing unions to negotiate pay rises across whole sectors
  • Give key workers in the public sector cost-of-living proofed pay rises
  • Raise the minimum wage to £15 an hour as soon as possible

Today’s poll reveals that nearly 7 in 10 Britons back raising the minimum wage to £15 an hour.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“No one should have to worry about putting food on the table or heating their homes.

“But millions of families are struggling to cover even the basics, and now face huge uncertainty over their energy bills after the Chancellor said support may end in April.

“This polling lays bare Britain’s cost of living emergency.

“Food and energy bills are soaring, but real wages are plummeting.

“Unless we get pay rising across the economy – and ensure benefits rise in line with inflation - we risk heading towards Victorian levels of poverty.

“The Conservatives should be working with unions to help households get through this crisis. But they want to make it harder for working people to win better pay and conditions.”

On the need to boost wages, Frances added:

“Instead of giving bungs to bankers, ministers need to get money into people’s pockets.

“That’s the best way to boost spending in local economies and to deliver lasting growth.”

Editors note

-MRP data tables can be found here:

-Polling: Opinium conducted a poll of 10,495 GB adults from 26-30 September 2022 designed to be representative of the national population according to demographics and past voting behaviour. The data from the poll were analysed using a multilevel regression and post-stratification (MRP) approach to derive constituency-level estimates for the results of key questions including voting intention

- About the TUC: The Trades Union Congress (TUC) exists to make the working world a better place for everyone. We bring together the 5.5 million working people who make up our 48 member unions. We support unions to grow and thrive, and we stand up for everyone who works for a living.

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