Oxfam: we're all becoming 'Freds'

Charity's report on the effects of the economic downturn says many more people in the UK face poverty

UK citizens are increasingly becoming victims of poverty, according to a report published today by Oxfam.

The report, Close to Home: UK Poverty and the Economic Downturn, says the recession has led to poorer conditions for the fifth of the population already living below the breadline and is threatening the livelihoods of millions more.

Some 76 per cent of adults do not think the Jobseeker's Allowance is enough to live on, the report says, and only 4 per cent of those surveyed thought the Government had done enough to help people who had lost their jobs.

Oxfam said the economic downturn meant that UK citizens were becoming ‘Freds' – forgotten, ripped off, excluded and debt-ridden. The charity has called on the Government to adopt a six-point rescue plan, including cutting taxes for people on low incomes and raising benefits.

Antonia Bance, deputy director of UK poverty at Oxfam, said: "We created the Fred concept after speaking to people who are suffering from the effects of the financial crisis. Bold action needs to be taken by the Government to prevent a major rise in poverty here in the UK.

"Now more than ever, it can't be business as usual in the UK. In the Budget on 22 April, the Government must help people living below the poverty line as well as the growing number at risk of poverty."

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