Britain’s not-so-hidden hunger
A progress report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger
We (The APPG on Hunger) hope this short document will form a helpful contribution to the national debate on hunger, and how it can be countered.
The recent increases we have uncovered in some sections of the population of under-nutrition and anaemia, following a long period of decline on both counts, are deeply troubling; as is the limited additional evidence we have been able to source on the extent and nature of childhood hunger. Moreover, we now have a slightly deeper understanding of the size and composition of the hidden army feeding Britain’s hungry. We also know that the pressure placed upon on poorer households’ budgets by fuel and housing costs remains extraordinarily high, thereby ensuring that hunger is never far from the door, but that there are options open to reformers seriously intent on easing this pressure. Where next from here?
A most urgent requirement is for the nation to come to terms with the full extent of its vulnerability to hunger. We are pursuing this matter with the United Kingdom Statistics Authority, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and Public Health England. We will also continue engaging with food banks – be they run on an independent basis, or as part of the Trussell Trust network – to monitor as best we can how many households have been plunged into a state of hunger, and why, as well as the provision that is on hand to relieve this hunger.
Whilst we have documented here some welcome policy developments which could bring with them a reduction in the numbers of hungry, clearly we have a huge amount of work left to do if we are to secure a broader reform programme along the lines we have set out in successive reports. Again we cannot emphasise more strongly the need for immediate action on three fronts: to deliver continuity of income through the prompt processing and payment of benefits and tax credits; to enshrine paid work at the National Living Wage as a safeguard against hunger; and to guarantee all children at least one decent meal, and preferably more, every day, both during and outside term time. We will continue advocating such action to bring to an end hunger as we know it in the United Kingdom.