2:41pm Friday 6th September 2013
TWO PROMINENT figures in Milford Haven’s community shared their experiences of poverty when they appeared on the BBC breakfast show this week.
PATCH (Pembrokeshire Action to Combat Hardship) co-ordinator Tracy Olin and Kathy Gray, who helps out at the Mount Community Association, talked about issues they have come across when they appeared on the programme on Wednesday in a section highlighting the struggles of low-paid workers.
The discussion followed the publication of a report by the Resolution Foundation.
According to research carried out by the think tank, which campaigns on behalf of low earners, the number of UK workers earning less than the so-called living wage has risen to 4.8 million since 2009.
The report said that the figure – equivalent to 20% of employees – is up from 3.4 million, which indicates a rise of almost 1.5 million people earning barely enough to get by.
And according to the Office for National Statistics, average hourly earnings in the UK have fallen by 8.5% since 2009.
Kathy, who earns about £10,000 a year, told the programme that although she kept her job, she was barely making ends meet.
She told the BBC: “It’s hard, you’re struggling now to keep a roof over your head, provide basic foods, pay your bills.
"I’ve got no house insurance any more, no pet insurance, because things like that have got to go, you don’t go on holiday.
"But I’m working, and I work hard.”
She added: “You work to better your life, but it’s just not happening any more.”
Tracy, who was also interviewed by the BBC, said she had seen a rise in working families struggling to make ends meet.
She said that the PATCH food bank fed as many people in the first six months of this year as it did in the whole of last year.
She said: “We’ve got one family, where both parents are working part time, and they really struggle. They’ve got four children, they have to travel to work, and it just knocks out all of their income.”
She added: “It’s also hard for working families to access certain services, including CAB services, while they are at work.
“I have seen a dramatic growth in the amount of working families coming to us, and sometimes you can be better off not working than going to work, and those are the issues the government is trying to address.
“We have been feeding up to 100 people for the last four to five weeks, and food is going out quicker than it’s coming in. We’re spending about £500 a week on food, and it’s just not sustainable.”
Tracy added that donations from schools and churches as part of the upcoming Harvest Festival will help the charity keep food levels up.
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