With the cost of living crisis only getting worse, we must tackle the growing need for food banks
Today, we are launching a landmark investigation into how we tackle the growing – and incredibly concerning – need for food banks across the UK.
This inquiry is the first of its kind in recent years, and with support from all major parties and both Houses of Parliament, couldn’t come a moment sooner.
The Trussell Trust, which is supporting the investigation, recently revealed food banks in its network had provided a staggering 2.1 million emergency food parcels in the past year, with an accelerating crisis in recent months. And yet at this pivotal moment, with the cost-of-living crisis only getting worse, we simply haven’t seen the action needed in the Queens Speech to help people on the lowest incomes, and avert even more people needing to use food banks.
This was a serious omission with grave consequences for families up and down the country. Further research by the Trussell Trust has shown that last winter – even before inflation and energy prices soared – one in three people receiving Universal Credit were skipping meals. As the current crisis bites, this is only getting worse. Food banks are hearing more and more of people struggling to survive, unable to afford the essentials and making impossible decisions between heating and eating.
Emergency food parcels are not a long term or dignified solution to a systemic problem
This inquiry is a powerful opportunity to highlight the reality of the crisis faced by people on the lowest incomes and will explore solutions to the root causes of foodbank use. Emergency food parcels are not a long term or dignified solution to a systemic problem. We must find a solution.
We launch this investigation today with a visit to Hackney Foodbank – in one of the most deprived local authorities in England. We will now spend the summer travelling to Blackpool, Newcastle and Fife to hear about the local picture in these different communities. We will gather written evidence from users of foodbanks and the organisations running them, before holding an evidence session this autumn. By spending time in urban, coastal and rural communities the APPG will seek to understand how the need for food banks and responses differ across the UK.
Our work will culminate in a report later this year with evidence-based recommendations for government. Recommendations which we believe they must not and cannot ignore.
This inquiry represents a vital opportunity for change and for food banks and people facing impossible decisions to come together and make the case for what needs to happen to create that change.
We will be working on this inquiry alongside fellow members of the APPG on Ending the Need for Food Bank, Paul Maynard, Catherine McKinnell and Marion Fellows. The cross-party and cross-House nature of the inquiry shows the strength of feeling around the increasing use of foodbanks. This isn’t about party politics, but about achieving what is right and just for our society.
We want to hear from you. If you have experience of delivering or accessing support from a foodbank you can submit your evidence here.
Wendy Chamberlain is the Liberal Democrat MP for North East Fife and co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ending the Need for Food Banks. Baroness D’Souza is a crossbench peer.
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