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National policy and living wage needed to tackle food poverty

The Health and Social Care Information Centre has recently published data about malnutrition.

Commenting on the wider issue of food poverty, Dr John Middleton, Vice President for Policy at the Faculty of Public Health, said:

“Food poverty has led to the manifestations of a poor diet, such as rickets and malnutrition, becoming more apparent. There are many reasons why some people can't afford a healthy diet. One of the main reason people give for using food banks is that they have not been paid their benefits on time. The extremely harsh benefits sanctions regime being applied cuts off people’s incomes acutely and completely and causes hunger. Food poverty also affects hard-working families on low wages, whose household budgets have been stretched.

“Food prices have gone by up by 12% since 2007, at the same time as wages fell by 7.6% in relative terms. At the same time, fuel bills, which make up a bigger part of the incomes of people living on low incomes, have increased.

“We need to see a national healthy food policy with greater emphasis on access, affordability and nutritional value. We also need the living wage for everyone, given the public health benefits it would bring. After all, it cannot be right that people can be in full-time work and still struggle to make ends meet.”