A report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research has claimed that around 4.7 million homes in the UK are now living in food poverty. Food poverty is defined in the reports as spending 10% or more of household income on food.
Whilst the 10% mark may not sound like a lot, this is including any money spent on rent, council tax and water and energy bills, which could easily take up to 75% or more of a household’s income. Add to this costs for transport, clothing and any other essentials, and you can quickly see how spending 10% or more on food can force you to decide between keeping the lights on or going hungry, which no family living in in a country like the UK should have to do.
The 4.7 million number doesn’t sound huge either, unless you realise that households essentially refers to families, which means that this figure is potentially 4.7 million sets of parents and children who are having difficulty getting together enough food to see them through the week.
Food banks have been claiming that this is the case for a while now, saying that they have seen stocks deplete at an ever increasing rate as more and more families find they need help keeping food on the table. Whilst some households can rely on short term loans or credit cards for a short period of time until they get some more money, it’s easy for this situation to drag out and become a long term problem.
Chris Mould is the chairman of the Trussell Trust, a charity which operates food banks, and hopes that this report will drive people to action: “The research reflects what Trussell Trust food banks are experiencing on the ground: every day, we’re meeting mothers who are skipping meals to feed their children, or people forced to choose between paying the bills or buying food.”
Of course, with the economic situation remaining what it is and inflation continuing to outpace average wage rises, more and more households are likely to find that they need to rely on food banks. How many people these charities can support is hard to measure, but at some point the already broken situation will get even worse without state involvement.