Social security and income maintenance
As January had closed so February opened with anxiety about the effects of cuts in public expenditure on the most vulnerable members of the community. The position was outlined by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Abandoned Social Priorities. Millions of families, the pamphlet said, faced an unjustified fall in living standards as a result of the decreased proportion of national resources being devoted to the poorest section of society. At the same time they faced increased costs of school meals and transport, prescription charges, rents and clothing. In addition, the Labour Member for Birkenhead pointed out in a letter to the Secretary of State for the Social Services that because they were not informed of their right to free welfare foods only 2.5 per cent of 1.5 million families which were eligible to receive them claimed that right. He estimated that this was saving the government £125 million a year. Further spending cuts, already announced, which would amount to £1,000 million in 1980–1 augured a harsh year ahead.