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The current joke has Oliver Twist saying, “Please, sir, can I have some more?” To which Eric Pickles replies: “Clear off! This is MY trough!”

Well? Do you want your kids to starve?

The Guardian has reported that budget cuts are forcing the closure of breakfast clubs in primary schools across the country – despite increased demand. The research, by Labour MP Sharon Hodgson, shows 40 per cent of councils are cutting back.

This means vulnerable children will be going to school hungry and will therefore be unable to concentrate in lessons.

Think about the consequences of this. If they can’t concentrate because of hunger, they’re likely to misbehave – and this could set a precedent for the rest of their lives. Malnourishment leads to misbehaviour, leading to what? Crime, perhaps?

At the very least, the inability to concentrate means their grades will drop and their academic careers will fail – in some cases, before they have had a chance to get going.

Who knows how many will develop health problems associated with malnutrition?

This will happen, not because they are “bad kids” or because they are “academically sub-normal”, but because they come from poor families. The rich, meanwhile, will streak ahead in the race for The Good Life.

The Guardian reports that Essex County Council said it had 219 breakfast clubs in schools last year, but 169 this year. In Surrey, 2,870 children were being given breakfast last year but only 1,200 in 2012. That’s creating 1,670 potential problem children.

All this is happening in the country with the seventh largest economy in the world.

A Department for Education spokesman acknowledged the importance of the service, but said it was up to schools how they spent the funds they were given. The “pupil premium”, aimed at the most disadvantaged children, would be doubled, the DFE said, but not until 2014-15 – in time to buy your votes at the 2015 election, perhaps?

Until then, do you really want your kids to starve?

The benefits system is failing thousands of people every week, forcing more and more of them to seek help from Britain’s growing number of food banks. “Breadline Britain”, under the Tory-led Coalition, is now a literal expression. Previously it was just metaphorical.

The Trussell Trust, which runs the UK’s biggest food bank, in Coventry, is opening new food banks at the rate of three per week.

Almost half the people who go to food banks are there because of benefit changes. the Department for Work and Pensions does not work fast enough to arrange benefits for when claimants need them, leaving poor people in crisis for weeks, or months, at a time. Then the debts start racking up.

Sanctions, imposed as temporary punishments by the new benefits regime, are also adding to the queue at the food banks. Since 2010, the number of people getting their Jobseeker’s Allowance suspended has spiked, and we all know that the disability tests introduced for Employment and Support Allowance (and soon to come in for Disability Living Allowance) are causing hardship and – in fact – death for Britain’s most vulnerable people.

Sanction or disallowance of benefits happened to 167,000 people in the three months up to February 2012.

What do people do for money when the State fails them and they can’t get work? They fall into the debt trap.

High-interest, doorstep lending to poor people is Britain’s latest – perhaps only – boom industry. In other words, the government’s sick benefits regime is forcing the poor into debt to organisations that will take away everything they have left, in order to make up payments on a loan whose interest rate they probably made up on the spot.

And when they’ve taken everything, what do you do then?

Do you really want your kids to starve?