Letter: Hungry Britain

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The Independent Culture
Sir: It was good to see The Independent give prominence to the scandal of poverty and hunger in Britain.

But it's not only food. Many energy, transport and pollution threats confirm that the unacceptable reality of life for millions of our fellow citizens is comparable to the horror endured by so many in the Third World. It is the poor who live "downhill, downwind and downstream".

There are 15 million Britons classified as "fuel-poor". They live in lousy housing that wastes energy, and are too poor to stay warm in winter. Annually, some 30,000 vulnerable people die because they are cold and damp.

In the past 20 years, government has spent more than pounds 15bn building roads. This has disproportionately benefited the "haves". Poor neighbourhoods, deprived of decent public transport, gain only increased pollution, noise and severance.

A nationwide home energy conservation scheme can eradicate fuel-poverty, cut polluting emissions and create up to 50,000 jobs. Building a modern public transport network will create more than 120,000 new jobs .

What is needed now is not more pious words but joined-up policy-making, drawing on both public and private sector resources, to end the scandals of environmental degradation and related social misery.

CHARLES SECRETT

Director

Friends of the Earth

London N1

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