MPs are urging the government to appoint a minister for hunger in the UK to tackle the growing problem of food insecurity.
The Commons environmental audit committee has accused the government of “turning a blind eye” to hunger and criticised ministers for treating hunger as an “overseas” issue, despite evidence that the UK has among the worst levels of food insecurity in Europe.
We are concerned at the government’s turning a blind eye to UK hunger and its lack of progress in measuring and acting upon hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in the UK.”
The committee heard evidence that more than 2 million people in the UK were food insecure – meaning they struggled to eat regularly and healthily – with an estimated 19% of all under-15’s living with moderately or severely food insecure adults.
Nearly 2 million people in the UK may be undernourished, including up to a third of people admitted to hospital, up to 42% admitted to care homes and a fifth of those received into mental health units, the committee says.
Benefit delays and sanctions related to universal credit are highlighted by the committee as key drivers of hunger alongside cuts to social care. Food bank use has increased by 52% in areas where universal credit has been rolled out for longer than 12 months, its report says.