DEMAND AN END TO POVERTY THIS GENERAL ELECTION
TAKE ACTION
Activism

Newcastle backs Right To Food campaign to 'end the scandal' of poverty

"The Government's attitude to people who are hungry, particularly children, has been callous and it has failed."

Gateshead Millenium Bridge in Newcastle, which has become the latest city to endorse the Right To Food campaign. Image credit: Hi I’m Santi / Flickr

Gateshead Millenium Bridge in Newcastle, which has become the latest city to endorse the Right To Food campaign. Image credit: Hi I’m Santi / Flickr

Newcastle City Council has become the latest local authority to throw its support behind the Right to Food campaign to “end the scandal” for millions afflicted by food poverty.

Campaigners want everybody to have a legal right to food, which would place responsibility on the Government to end hunger. 

Lockdowns have taken income away from hundreds of Big Issue sellers. Support The Big Issue and our vendors by signing up for a subscription.

Local leaders across the country, including in Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool, have given their backing.

Newcastle councillors will write to ministers and ask that the right to food be included in the National Food Strategy, an independent review commissioned by the Government which has been described as England’s biggest food policy shake-up in 75 years. 

Newcastle councillor Ann Schofield, who brought forward the motion, told The Big Issue: “I’m a councillor for one of the most disadvantaged areas in Newcastle. I said I would really like to take this on and see if I could get a motion through. 

“I think the Government has largely failed people over hunger, particularly children. 

“It seems to me that what we’ve got to do is to put the right to food on a legal footing so that we can take the Government to task and hold them accountable around hunger and particularly child hunger.” 

A petition to make access to food a legal right in the UK was launched in June and has garnered more than 45,000 signatures. 

“Putting the Right to Food into UK law would make the Government legally responsible to help anyone in our communities who is going hungry, to take action to prevent barriers in accessing food and to take steps to tackle the crisis of food insecurity in the UK which is effecting 10 million people,” the petition reads. 

“We currently lack a legal mechanism for enforcing the basic right to food.

“Legislation enshrining this right would set out tasks and responsibilities for the wide range of public bodies that would need to take action to ensure everyone has access to essential foodstuffs.”

The Government has responded to the petition, but refused to commit to implementing its demands. 

In response, the Department for Work and Pensions said: “Tackling poverty in all forms is a key priority for this Government. We have provided an unprecedented level of support over the past year to protect the most vulnerable through the Covid-19 pandemic.” 

But the Petitions Committee, a group of MPs who oversee the petitions system, requested a revised response from the Government as “they felt that the response did not directly address the request of the petition”. At 100,000 signatures, the petition will be considered for debate in Parliament.

Ian Byrne, the Liverpool Labour MP who is spearheading the right to food campaign alongside grassroots organisation Fans Supporting Foodbanks, said he was “delighted” Newcastle had joined the campaign. 

“Delighted to see @NewcastleCC join our ever-lengthening list of authorities joining the call for systemic change and the #RightToFood,” he wrote on Twitter. 

“Thanks to all involved and in particular Cllr Ann Schofield for pushing the motion.”

Cllr Schofield added: “The Government’s attitude to people who are hungry, particularly children, has been callous and it has failed. 

 “I think they need to completely relook at the way they respond to poverty and review the benefits system, which is failing in both its desires and objectives.

“They should implement the right to food in their national food strategy, which would include looking at food waste.”

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
'We are here and we exist': Inside the neighbourhood offering sanctuary to queer Russians and Ukrainians
Pride

'We are here and we exist': Inside the neighbourhood offering sanctuary to queer Russians and Ukrainians

Actor Liz Carr says it hurts to hear her younger self 'wanted to die'
Liz Carr
Disability rights

Actor Liz Carr says it hurts to hear her younger self 'wanted to die'

Feeling like change in the UK isn't possible? Let these 28 purposeful campaigns prove otherwise
Activism

Feeling like change in the UK isn't possible? Let these 28 purposeful campaigns prove otherwise

Back to Black actor Eddie Marsan: 'There aren't any no-go areas in Tower Hamlets'
London

Back to Black actor Eddie Marsan: 'There aren't any no-go areas in Tower Hamlets'

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know