Labour pledges to halve food bank usage within its first year in government
Labour has pledged to halve food bank usage within its first year in government while aiming to end the need for them in three years.
Shadow Environment Secretary Sue Hayman unveiled the policy as part of a new Fair Food Act they plan to pass if the party takes office.
In a speech to her party’s annual conference in Brighton, she said it was a “scandal” that 1.6 million emergency food parcels were distributed by the Trussell Trust charity last year.
She said Labour would “make sure no one in the country needs to go hungry”, after figures from the Food Foundation estimated four million children in Britain are now at risk of malnutrition as a result of living in poverty.
Their new law will create a National Food Commission to monitor food insecurity, and the Access to Food Fund will help in the 50 most food deprived areas of the country.
Ms Hayman said: “In the world’s sixth richest country, it is a scandal that people are going hungry.
“This government’s mean-spirited welfare policies and failure to think differently that has brought the situation to crisis point.
“Climate change and a reckless No Deal Brexit threaten to make the issue of food insecurity even worse.
“Food is a basic human right. The next Labour government will introduce a Right to Food in a Fair Food Act.
“We will make sure no one in the country needs to go hungry.”
The Trussell Trust welcomed the plans, but said a Labour government’s first priority should be to reform the welfare system and “end the five week wait for Universal Credit”.
Emma Revie, their chief executive, said: “No one in the UK should need a food bank.
“We should all have enough money coming in for a decent standard of living, and any sign of our country’s politicians committing to end the need for food banks is welcome.”
Adding: “The evidence from food banks in our network is clear: hunger in the UK is not about food, it’s about not having enough money for essentials.
“Any approach to end the need for food banks must focus on ensuring our benefits system anchors people from the rising tide of poverty, tackling high costs of living and making sure work pays.
“The first priority must be to end the five week wait for Universal Credit.”