be on the breadline

be/live on the breadline

  (British & Australian)
to be very poor
Usage notes: In America, breadlines were very poor people standing in a line waiting for free food provided by the government.
Most families of the unemployed are on the breadline. How many elderly people in Britain are living on the breadline?
See also: breadline, on
References in periodicals archive ?
W ORK and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has insisted he knows what is like to be on the breadline as he dismissed a petition calling for him to live on PS53 a week as a "complete stunt".