Free food at 'breaking point' as cost of living crisis continue to break backs in UK


London: An “ever-increasing” number of households, including teachers, pensioners, and employees of the NHS, are turning to food banks for assistance as a result of the cost of living issue, according to new statistics, more people are relying on them than ever before in Britain.

About 90% of food banks questioned indicated higher demand in December 2022 and January 2023 compared to a year earlier, according to recent research by the Independent Food Aid Network (Ifan) shared with the Observer.

If demand increased further, the 85 organisations operating 154 food banks that answered warned they would either have to reduce support or turn people away.

Trussell Trust, the largest provider of food in the UK with more than 1,300 food banks, said in November that food banks were “near breaking point” and expected this winter to have been their busiest ever.

It supplied 1.3 million emergency food items between April and September alone, a third more than during the same time period in 2021 and more than 50% more than before the outbreak.

According to data released last week by the Office for National Statistics, the cost of living crisis is still raging even if inflationary pressures have decreased. Gas prices have increased by around 130% since last year,
while food inflation is already at 16.7%.

In November, the Office for Budget Responsibility predicted that the disposable income of households will decrease by 4.3% in 2022–2023, the greatest decrease since comparable records first began in 1956.

The most extensive public sector strikes in decades have been brought on by a real earnings decline and rising inflation. The voting period for a poll of more than 45,000 junior doctors ends on Monday, and the results will
likely be made public later in the day.

According to the Ifan research, food banks are having a hard time keeping up with the high demand from people who are employed, including teachers and members of the NHS.

More than 80% indicated they had helped a sizable number of people for the first time, and many added that demand was rising among retirees and new-parent families.

“It’s really evident that people have been attempting to muddle through the winter on credit and are now building up debts that will push people over the edge,” Sabine Goodwin, Ifan coordinator told media.

She added that the government’s reliance on charitable food aid is “unsustainable and unethical” and warned that without a change in strategy, there will be “nowhere for people to turn.”

The largest issue cited was rising cost of living, followed by low pay and long waits for initial payments from universal credit.

Benefit restrictions and deductions were cited by one-third of independent food banks as a motivating factor.
Workers who are going on strike make up a large portion of those who have turned to food banks.

NHS employees’ strike action continues to be well-supported by the public.

The public supported nurses’ strike action by 64%, up 7 percentage points from early January, according to the most recent Opinium Research poll conducted for the Observer.

60% of the populace supports ambulance employees, while 39% supports train workers.

The British Medical Association has issued a warning to the government, saying that if the junior doctors’ ballot passes, there would be a 72-hour full walkout of all NHS services, including emergency treatment, next month.

An official from the government, meanwhile stated: “We recognise the pressures of the rising cost of living, which is why we delivered £1,200 of direct support to millions of households last year, including £400 towards energy costs, and will be providing another £1,350 of support to the most vulnerable households in 2023–24.

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Free food at 'breaking point' as cost of living crisis continue to break backs in UK
Free food at 'breaking point' as cost of living crisis continue to break backs in UK
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