New government commissioned report admits genuine need for food aid in UK

February 20, 2014

Following today’s warning by 26 Bishops about a national crisis of hunger, Defra has published a new research report that suggests that there is significant need for food aid in Britain today.

Imran Hussain, Head of Policy for Child Poverty Action Group, said:

“The Government’s own commissioned research today finds that the huge growth in foodbank use is a result of real hardship and hunger, as families with children and others struggle to cope with falling incomes and rising living costs. Even more worrying is the suggestion that the growing number of foodbank 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, foodbanks 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 foodbank to feed their child.”

ENDS


Notes to Editors

The report finds no evidence that supply is driving the increase in food bank use, but evidence of increased demand. Even so, food bank use is a last resort for people who have run out of other options. Food aid does not address the underlying causes of household food insecurity. The report shows that people go to food banks for both reasons of short-term crisis – job loss or problems with the social security system – or long-term poverty – low income or indebtedness. It also says that there is no systematic UK evidence of why people go to food banks.

  • 'Ultimately, the research indicates that food aid is a strategy of last resort’ (p.34)
  • '‘There is no systematic evidence on the impact of increased supply and hypotheses of its potential effects are not based on robust evidence’ (p.12) [this refutes Lord Freud’s suggestion that the only more people are using foodbanks is because supply has increased].
  • ‘Evidence from the US (Yu et al 2010) showed that whilst food pantry use (equivalent to ‘food bank use’ in the UK) is often driven by a household’s food insecurity, the converse is not the case: only 1 in 5 food insecure households sought and received ‘informal food supports’ (p.28) [This shows that foodbanks use may only be the tip of the iceberg of actual food poverty]
  • ‘The reasons which are currently being reported by these various sources, as leading people to seek food aid… include (in order of ranking by the sources): loss of, reductions in or problems associated with, social security payments; low income; indebtedness; homelessness’ (p.30)
  • CPAG is the leading charity campaigning for the abolition of child poverty in the UK and for a better deal for low-income families and children.
  • CPAG is the host organisation for the Campaign to End Child Poverty coalition, which has members from across civil society including children’s charities, faith groups, unions and other civic sector organisation, united in their campaigning for public and political commitment to ensure the goal of ending child poverty by 2020 is met.

 

For further information please contact:

Tim Nichols

CPAG Press Officer

Tel. 020 7812 5216 or 07816 909302

tnichols@cpag.org.uk

www.cpag.org.uk