Thursday 27th October 2016                 Change text size:

Government ‘can’t ignore’ food poverty crisis, says leading charity

food bank launch by BromfordGroup via Flickr

A leading charity has welcomed a government-commissioned report into the UK’s food crisis, saying that politicians “can’t ignore” that families are struggling to cope under falling wages and rising living costs.

The Child Poverty Action Group said on Friday that there has been a “huge growth” in food bank usage in the UK.

Its comments come in response to a report commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) published on Thursday, which says that provisions made for food aid do not address the underlying issues of household food insecurity.

The report also indicates that the Trussell Trust, the church-backed poverty charity that runs more than 500 food banks across the UK, has seen substantial demands in recent years.

One church minister in Barnsley blamed the rise in demand on the government’s welfare reforms last summer, saying that for the first time, the UK was seeing the emergence of a “working poor”.

Leading Church of England bishops stepped in to condemn the reforms on Thursday, commenting that the welfare system was “failing”.

David Cameron however, claimed that the reforms were part of the government’s wider “moral missions”, whereas deputy prime minister Nick Clegg accused the church of exaggerating poverty figures.

According to the Trussell Trust, more than 500,000 people were forced to turn to food banks for support between April and November last year.

Commenting on the Defra report, Imran Hussain, head of policy for Child Poverty Action Group, said, “The growing number of food bank users may be just the tip of the iceberg for food poverty today.

“It’s understandable ministers back the intentions of their social security policies, but as the evidence from charities, food banks and faith groups mounts up, they can’t ignore what’s actually happening on the ground.

Improved processing of benefits, fairer implementation of sanctions and greater help for the low paid are all sensible steps the government should be taking to ensure no parent has to turn to a food bank to feed their child.”

 Further reading:

Welfare system failing, say Church of England bishops

Food bank usage up 60% in south-east England, UK’s second wealthiest area

UK’s first ‘social supermarket’ opens its doors

Why food banks are necessary in modern society

Poorest facing ‘toughest ever winter’, says food poverty charity

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