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Food poverty in the UK

Jack Monroe

At a glance

Food poverty is on the rise in the UK, Oxfam is working with others to campaign for a system where everyone can afford to feed their family with dignity.

Overview

Although the UK is the seventh richest country in the world, many people struggle to afford food.

  • In 2012-13, the Trussell Trust foodbank network, an Oxfam partner, provided over 350,000 people in the UK with food parcels - more than double the year before.
  • Oxfam and Church Action on Poverty estimate that over 500,000 people in the UK are now reliant on food parcels.
  • Over 2 million people in the UK are estimated to be malnourished, and 3 million are at risk of becoming so.
  • 36% of the UK population are just one heating bill or a broken washing machine away from hardship.
  • 1 in 6 parents have gone without food themselves to afford to feed their families

"People at the upper end of the income scale have no idea of what's going on down at the bottom of the scale. They don't realise how much people are really hurting."
Sir Michael Marmot, health inequality expert and author of Fair Society, Healthy Lives.

Food poverty reports

To highlight the rise in food poverty in the UK Oxfam and the Church Action on Poverty published Walking the Breadline: The scandal of food poverty in 21st-century Britain in 2013. The report recommends that the government conducts an urgent inquiry into the relationship between welfare changes and cuts, and the growth of food poverty.

In 2014 we released a follow up report: Below the Breadline: The relentless rise of food poverty in Britain, which makes recommendations for how the social security system could provide the safety net when people need it, supporting people into sustainable work and providing for those unable to work. It also calls for the UK minimum wage to be increased to a living wage by 2020.

Emergency use only

: in 2014 research was jointly conducted by Oxfam, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), the Church of England and The Trussell Trust to examine why people are turning to food banks, how food bank use fits with their wider coping strategies, and what might be done to reduce the need that leads to food bank use.