The number of food insecure people was a fifth higher in January than six months earlier, according to a survey which showed families in the UK were struggling to feed themselves even before the looming pressure on food levels. life.
Data released Monday by the charity Food Foundation showed in January that 4.7 million adults had experienced food insecurity, or 8.8% of the population.
That’s 20.5% more than in July last year, when the survey found 3.9 million adults experienced food insecurity.
The stark hunger indicators come ahead of a once-in-a-generation drop in living standards as people across the UK brace for a triple whammy of tax hikes, rising energy costs and consumer price inflation.
Anna Taylor, executive director of the Food Foundation, said the snapshot gave “a first indication that the worst is yet to come”.
“Too many households are living on the edge and will be pushed further into the stress and anxiety of not knowing if they can put food on the table,” she said.
“The government has just set itself the task of reducing inequalities in healthy life expectancy and it must start with the most basic needs – ensuring that people can feed themselves in a way that protects their health. health.”
Falling living standards for much of Britain’s population prompted Chancellor Rishi Sunak last week to announce a £9billion package to help struggling households.
On the same day, energy regulator Ofgem announced a 54% rise in energy bills and the Bank of England raised interest rates from 0.25% to 0.5%. He warned that inflation could reach 7.25% by April, threatening to limit people’s purchasing power as a planned increase in National Insurance contributions reduces their take home pay.
But Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank, warned that the package “would not prevent average incomes and living standards from falling in the coming year”.
Peter Matejic, deputy director of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said those on benefits would be particularly affected.
“We are really worried about the gradual erosion,” he said. “Everything costs a lot more and people have less money coming into the house. A lot of low-income people don’t have savings to cushion the blow.
The Food Foundation survey, compiled by YouGov and based on responses from more than 4,000 people, found that 62% of households had higher energy bills and food costs, and 16% reduced their food to afford other essentials.
One million adults, or 3.6% of the population, said they had to go at least one day without eating in the previous month because they could not afford to buy or access food. In July, the figure was 2.6%.
Households with children were also more likely to struggle with food, with 12.1% of households experiencing food insecurity and 1 million adults reporting having to go an entire day without eating because they had no food. no means to feed themselves.