The Growth of Hunger in the UK
Over 10 million people live in poverty in the United Kingdom , 3.5 million of these are children .
Half a million people are now dependent on food aid, relying on a rapidly expanding network of food banks and support programmes . One in five mothers report regularly skipping meals to better feed their children and 5,500 people were admitted to hospital in the UK for malnutrition this year compared with 3,000 in 2008 .
The massive growth in the numbers going hungry has been fuelled by rapidly rising prices (up 30.5% in the past 5 years), stagnant and falling real incomes, unemployment, casualization of work, capping increases in benefits to 1% rather than indexing them to inflation, and incompetency in and reform of the benefit system – 30% of those visiting food banks do so because their benefits have been delayed, 15% because they are under sanction . The value of out of work benefits has fallen by 50% relative to average income in the last 30 years.
With living conditions under pressure changes to the social fund removed much of the final safety net leaving thousands hungry. This is an enormous moral failing. It constitutes a historic abdication of state responsibility and support for the most vulnerable.
But this is not just a problem for those on benefits; those in work face a real risk of hunger. The majority of households in poverty are in work. Research shows around 60% of families with an income under £17,000 have cut back on food to save money with an even higher rate among families on £17,000-£30,000, while 39% and 29% respectively report buying less fruit and veg and 25%, across both income levels, are shrinking portions to save money.