Every day, families across the UK are making excruciating decisions on how to survive on a very limited budget...These are Dickensian choices playing out in 2012.
Dr Elizabeth Young of Home-Start UK
With 27 per cent of children in the UK now living in poverty, families are facing Dickensian choices, a Lib Dem fringe event has heard.
Increasing poverty is meaning some parents have to go hungry in order to ensure their children have enough food to eat.
Dr Elizabeth Young of Home-Start UK, the UK's leading family support charity said the situation in unlikely to improve, with child poverty figures, likely to increase.
"Every day, families across the UK are making excruciating decisions on how to survive on a very limited budget...These are Dickensian choices playing out in 2012," she said.
Young praised the Lib Dems for taking a proactive approach to increase social mobility and fairness in society, but stressed that more needs to be done to prevent the deficit reduction burden from being passed on to the most vulnerable parents, who are already struggling.
She suggested that people are becoming inured to the struggles of families, possibly because they occur behind closed doors, but stressed that everyone should remember, "it could happen to any one of us."
Baroness Tyler, president of the National Children's Bureau, said flexible, affordable childcare is the most important factor affecting families, and it needs to be addressed.
Tyler said she is unable to provide any "inside track" on the potential findings of the Commission on Childcare which will report in the autumn, on how to reduce the costs of childcare for working families.
On free early years provision, Tyler said she supports the work done so far to extend free early years provision, but would like to see more money given to the project.
"That's one step in a journey we need to go on," she said.