News / Food Poverty

New report shows pandemic effect on household food insecurity remains a crisis

A new report from Sustain member the Food Foundation, released as part of the #EndChildFoodPoverty campaign spearheaded by Marcus Rashford, provides further evidence that the pandemic has had a devastating impact on the UK’s most vulnerable populations and that the problem of household food insecurity continues to be at crisis levels.

Food Foundation

Food Foundation

Headline statistics from the report are:

  • Food insecurity remains higher than pre-Covid levels affecting an estimated 4.7 million adults (9% of households) over the last six months. This compares to pre-Covid levels of 7.6%. 
  • 55% of those experiencing food insecurity (an estimated 2.5 million adults) said it was because they did not have enough money for food, 31% said it was due to isolation, 23% said it was lack of access and supply and 8% cited other reasons in the last six months.
  • Despite government’s financial support schemes and the Universal Credit £20 uplift, 22% of households have experienced a drop in income since Feb 2020.
  • Households with children have higher levels of food insecurity compared to those without. An estimated 2.3 million children live in households that have experienced food insecurity in the past 6 months (12% of households with children).
  • The situation is even worse in households with children on Free School Meals. 41% have reported food insecurity in the past 6 months.   

The report urges government to make food security a priority in recovery planning and move away from short-term solutions, food banks and emergency food aid. The three key recommendations in the report are: 

  1. An urgent review of Free School Mealsprioritising ensuring the eligibility threshold does not exclude any disadvantaged children from accessing a healthy meal. 
  2. Businesses should pay at least the Real Living Wage and the Government should make the £20 Universal Credit uplift permanent. 
  3. Designate authority in government to be responsible for monitoring and tackling food insecurity. 

Read the full report and register for the Food Foundation webinar about the report at 10.00am on Tuesday 9 March.

Published 2 Mar 2021

Food Poverty: Over 8 million people in the UK struggle to get enough to eat. Sustain is working with communities, third-sector organisations, local authorities and government, aiming to make sure everyone can eat well.

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