Labour former Prime Minister Gordon Brown urged businesses to donate goods such as toilet rolls, soap and toothpaste to charities to help families who cannot pay their bills
Gordon Brown has warned the cost-of-living crisis is developing into a public health crisis as families cannot afford basics such as nappies.
The former PM said there is a “poverty epidemic” as millions of people struggle to make ends meet. He urged businesses to donate goods such as toilet rolls, soap and toothpaste to charities to help families who cannot pay their bills.
Mr Brown said GPs across the UK were reporting that patients were asking for prescriptions for basic childcare items such as nappies.
“The welfare state has been systematically shredded over the last decade,” he said. “Instead of being supported in hard times, the consequence is that as many as four million of our fellow British citizens, many actually in work, are now trapped in life below the safety net. This life means being unable to afford basics such as clothing, toiletries, laundry and bedding.
“It means having to cut back on essentials such as food and heating because of cuts to benefits. For 700,000 children, it means having to share a bed. For nearly half a million, it means sleeping on the floor. Far from getting better, the poverty crisis we’ve seen over the winter is now turning into a public health and hygiene emergency with families unable even to keep their children clean.”
Mr Brown urged the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to order a root-and-branch review of the Universal Credit system. The former Labour prime minister has helped launch new “multibanks”, which are similar to foodbanks but where families can get clothes, bedding, furniture, baby and hygiene products. Six are expected to be operational in England, Wales and Scotland by the end of the year.