‘Hunger stalks the nation’: Church of England slams govt as 1mn Brits dependent on food banks
According to a landmark report, partially funded by the Church of England (CoE) and published on Monday, the government has not been doing enough to tackle rising levels of poverty in the UK, and in particular regarding hunger in the UK’s poorest communities.
The CoE, which has long warned about deprivation in the UK, particularly criticized the government for failing to do more to combat food wastage by major supermarkets, which could be redistributed to the country’s poor.
The report, titled “Feeding Britain,” was produced following a six-month inquiry by an all-party parliamentary group into hunger in Britain, led by Labour MP Frank Field and funded by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Charitable Trust.
Two Conservative MPs, a Conservative Lord and a Labour MP were also involved in the inquiry.
The report is particularly critical of the Conservative-led government’s welfare reforms, claiming that both the reduction and delays in benefits has meant families living on low incomes are worse off in the long term.
“There is a clear moral case to address the shortcomings that exist in our welfare system,” the report says.
“Our evidence shows that the current system is cumbersome, complicated and fails to respond effectively to the daily changes in people’s lives. A single error can itself end up being the recruiting sergeant for money lenders.”
Additionally, the committee warned that the rising costs of living, such as household bills and rent, has meant more Britons find themselves out of pocket and dependent on voluntary services such as food banks.
“These fundamental changes in the relative prices in budgets of food, utilities and rent have blown sky-high the comfortable post-war assumption that our wages system and our benefit system guarantees a minimum which most of us would regard as tolerable,” Field said.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, the Archbishop said it was “even more shocking” that families in the UK were going hungry, and compared the situation with starvation in Africa.
“Hunger stalks large parts of our country,” he wrote.
The UK’s main provider of food banks, NGO the Trussell Trust, recorded a 163 percent rise in the number of people using its services since last year, while Just Fair, a partner of the End Hunger Fast campaign, claimed the UK “violated the human right to food and breached international law.”