In Questions to the Department of, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) today, Emma continued to put pressure on the Government to explain why they refuse to measure the levels of food poverty and food insecurity in the UK.
United Nations data shows that an estimated 8.4 million people, the equivalent of entire population of London, reported having insufficient food in the UK in 2014, the 6th largest economy in the world..5.6% of people aged 15 or over in the UK reported struggling to get enough food to eat and a further 4.5% reported that, at least once, they went a full day without anything to eat.
This means that The UK – one of the wealthiest countries in the world ranks in the bottom half of European countries.
The Government must conduct research into who and why certain groups are affected, how food insecurity impacts food choices and health, and develop long term policy measures to tackle the problem.
In continuing to reject calls from cross-party groups, the Food Foundation, Sustain and Oxfam to measure the scale of the problem, the Government cannot even begin to come up with a strategy to tackle the problem.
In a recent Westminster Hall Debate secured by Emma about household food insecurity, the Minister, George Eustice refused to accept that food prices were rising saying there was “clear evidence that there is some stability.”
The Government continued to peddle this line today despite figures out this week from the ONS showing food prices are on the rise.
Emma was also to put this data – the latest Consumer Price Index figures, to the Secretary of State in today’s questions which showed inflation at its highest in two and a half years as a result of a weak pound driving up food prices including staples and fresh fruit and veg.
The Secretary of State was forced to acknowledge an increase which she described as a “small up-tick” but maintained that food prices remain stable.
Emma once again, put it to the Government that they were refusing to acknowledge the problem so they did not have to admit that their punitive welfare reforms had pushed so many people into abject poverty.
Read Emma’s Question’s and the Minister’s response here.
Speaking after Defra Questions, Emma said:
Both the Minister and the Secretary of State cited the ‘Living Cost of Food Survey’ as their measurement of food insecurity but the results are a sample of only 6,000 households, when millions are reported as suffering food insecurity this survey is hardly an accurate measurement tool.
There is no clear government leadership on food insecurity and the absence of regular data collection means the magnitude of the problem remains hidden which allows the Government to keep its head firmly buried in the sand so they don’t have to do anything about it. Today once again proved that if you are struggling to put food on the table the Tories simply don’t care.
To read Emma’s previous debates and Qs on food insecurity see: