- Hungry for Change
- Cameron Tait
- 28 October 2015
The final report of the year long Fabian Commission on Food and Poverty sets out how a fairer food system can be built that works better for people on low incomes.
Drawing on public hearings, expert testimony and the insights of people with experience of managing poverty, the Commission has uncovered a crisis of food access for many households in the UK. There are multiple cases of parents – usually mothers – going hungry to feed their children or having to prioritise calories over nutrients to afford their weekly food shop. Many people are feeling a deep sense of anxiety from the struggle to manage serious squeezes in household budgets that arises from the cost of living rising faster than income.
The Commission defines this state of living as ‘household food insecurity’: the inability to acquire or consume an adequate quality or sufficient quantity of food in socially acceptable ways, or the uncertainty that one will be able to do so. But a lack of official measurement means nobody can be clear how many people are affected by household food insecurity in the UK.
Reducing and eventually ending household food insecurity needs an active approach from government to tackle its structural drivers, and the Commission have produced a 14 point plan for how the government can create a food system that works for people on and near the breadline.
The commissioners’ recommendations include:
- A pilot tax on sugary drinks so that the efficacy of taxes on unhealthy food and drink can be assessed.
- A review of current advertising codes to identify where existing rules are being flouted and children are being bombarded by unhealthy promotions
- A new cross-departmental minister with responsibility for eliminating household food insecurity in the UK
- Action to reduce acute household food insecurity caused by social security benefit sanctions, delays and errors
- An inquiry to identify effective ways of removing poverty premiums for key living costs including food, utilities, housing, household appliances, and transport
- Local authorities establish food access plans that will address any physical barriers to affordable, nutritious food in their area
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