Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Coronavirus poverty and panic buying forces millions to go without food

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A shocking 3 million people in the UK admit to having gone a whole day without eating, as the coronavirus fallout leaves vulnerable people hungry and unable to access vital food supplies, food poverty campaigners have warned.

A YouGov poll commissioned by the Food Foundation exposes the shocking reality of how the prolonged but necessary lockdown, coupled with some people’s selfishness, is impacting low-income households.

An estimated 7.1 million people say someone in their household has had to reduce or skip meals because they could not access or afford sufficient sustenance

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Of the 8.1 million people (16%) in Britain who are believed to be facing food insecurity during this crisis, 21% don’t have enough money to buy adequate food supplies, 50% were unable to get the food they needed from the shops due to shortages and 25% were unable to leave their homes and had no other way to get the food they needed. 

A near empty food cupboard. Photo: Oxfam.

The Food Foundation suggests this may be a short-term problem, given that panic-buying and food shortages have finally shown signs of subsiding.

But just three weeks into the lockdown, more than three million people have already begun borrowing money from friends and family or taking out personal loans.

Worryingly, 43% of those surveyed by YouGov did not believe they are entitled to any kind of Government support to help them through this difficult time, despite over a million people losing all of their income.

A Government spokesperson said: “Public safety and making sure that those most at risk from the virus get the support they need is our top priority. People should stay at home, to help protect our NHS and save lives.

“We’re working with the groceries industry, local government, local resilience and emergency partners to ensure essential items are delivered as soon as possible to the most vulnerable.”

The Food Foundation is calling on local authorities to improve and scale-up welfare assistance schemes that provide nutritious food parcels for people who are self-isolating.

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They are also urging the Department for Work and Pensions to end the minimum five-week wait for a Universal Credit payment, adding that the current option for advance payments forces people to choose between hardship now or hardship later – advances have to repaid through deductions to a claimant’s monthly payment.

Photo: Pixabay

The foundation is also demanding an end to the cruel benefit cap and an increase to child benefit for parents who are struggling to put food on the table for their children.

However, the Foundation welcomes the Government’s free school meal replacement programme, which means that 63% of eligible households with children between 8 and 16 years of age will continue to receive help in the form of food vouchers.

But despite this welcome announcement, it still leaves 507,000 children without the free school meals on which they relied before the lockdown, and more than 260,000 will still not receive the support they need over the Easter bank holiday.

YouGov surveyed 4343 adults online between 7th and 9th April 2020 and the results were weighted to ensure they were representative of all British adults.


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DWP faces judicial review after mentally ill man found ‘starved to death’

Errol Graham starved to death in June 2018 after the DWP stopped his benefits.