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Special report exposes capital's slums

London Tonight exposes the overcrowded properties that are homes to thousands of East London families.

Our special investigation comes as one London borough announces its plans to make it harder for people to get a council house.

This comes after the Olympics showed the world a London at its best. But in the shadow of the Olympic Park is a London most would want kept hidden. Families living in extreme poverty, living in the capital city in 21st century slums.

The London Fire Brigade has called on Londoners to report such slums because they are such a fire risk. But for most of the quarter of a million families living in overcrowded conditions, there is little choice.

For the second part in our series on poverty, Ria Chatterjee reports on the homes that are known simply as 'sheds with beds'.

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Special investigation into poverty in capital

London Tonight has conducted a special investigation into poverty in the capital. London is one of the richest cities in the world, a financial power, a magnet for a moneyed elite.

In stark contrast, there are families, even entire neighbourhoods, facing a daily struggle just to get through the day.

For the first of her reports on poverty, Ria Chatterjee looks at the growth in the number of people dependent on food banks.

London Assembly to investigate food poverty

Increasing numbers of Londoners are turning to free school meals Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The London Assembly Health and Environment Committee is beginning an investigation into how it can best tackle food poverty in the capital. The Assembly says almost a third of London's school children are registered for free school meals.

The Department of Health defines food poverty as “the inability to afford, or to have access to, food to make up a healthy diet.”

The charity Kids Company reports that 37% of 5-12 year olds at three of their centres claim there is not enough food for them to eat at home every day.

Camilla Batmanghelidjh is founder of Kids Company Credit: David Jensen/EMPICS Entertainment

The investigation will look at the scale and health implications of the issue, existing emergency support for people already in need, as well as broader measures to address the risk factors for food poverty.

FionaTwycross AM, Member of the Health and Environment Committee, said:

“Food poverty in modern Britain and in London is a scandal. What kind of society have we become if people have to turn to charity just to get enough food to survive?

"It appears that many people who are turning to food banks are working but still can’t afford to buy enough food for their families. There are also serious health implications arising from food poverty as not eating a healthy diet can contribute to diabetes, heart disease and rickets.

“Charities do a wonderful job but we need to look at what steps could be taken by the Mayor and partner organisations to help lift London families out of food poverty.”

The committee will publish a report of its findings early next year.

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