I WAS sad to see the letter from D Bradley ('Moral Austerity', Postbag, January 17).

I do not think we will make much headway as a country if we discount half of its citizens.

In rich countries like ours, a smaller gap between rich and poor means a happier, healthier, and more successful population. High levels of income inequality are linked to economic instability, financial crisis, debt and inflation.

In 2015, income inequality in the UK was higher than it had ever been; the average pay of the top one per cent was 13 times average earnings.

I agree that, sadly, there are people who cannot afford a home or food. Poverty has been rising even faster than employment, driven almost entirely by increasing poverty among working parents. Four million workers and four million children are living in poverty.

READ MORE: 'Is throwing money at people who can't afford food or a home morally acceptable?'

Up to 2012, rising employment, tax credits and support with housing helped to stem this, but the benefits freeze since 2016, high housing costs and poor quality jobs have reversed that trend. Yes, it's good to encourage people into work, but surely that should pay for a decent life?

The Government's 'national living wage' is not calculated according to what employees and their families need to live. Instead, the level is based on a target to reach 60% of median earnings by 2020.

Today, the 'national living wage' is £7.83 per hour; the real living wage is calculated at £9 per hour.

The social security safety-net recognises that people do get sick, relationships end, people lose their jobs. Families live one- week's wages away from being made homeless.

For struggling families, social security helps them hold steady. If DB does not support the social security net, what would (s)he have them do?

There are ways to reduce these costs. Reduce housing costs for renters, and open opportunities for better-paid employment.

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We need a plan to increase the supply of social housing, at rent-levels that ensure affordability for families on low incomes. Ending right-to-buy would be a start!

This approach is a win-win for the government and the economy. Social housing keeps rents low and the money in the system, rather than in the pockets of the private landlords. Well-paid employment increases the money for public services and support, whether it's schools or the NHS; services that we all rely on.

Now, I don't know whether, like me, DB is a pensioner. But here's a thought - state pensions are the biggest item in the social security budget, accounting for over 40 per cent of the total.

Austerity anyone?