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Two-thirds of Brits believe poverty has got worse in the last five years

The Trussell Trust and YouGov survey is a “call to action to end the need for foodbanks"

Packages of food are lined along shelves and on the floor in a food bank

Packages of food are lined along shelves and on the floor in a food bank. Image: Trussell Trust

Almost 90 per cent of Brits consider hunger a problem, says a damning Trussell Trust and YouGov survey that the national foodbank charity insist is a “call to action to end the need for foodbanks”.

The group asked 12,000 Brits how they thought the UK had been impacted by poverty and the response they received was unequivocal.

The right for everyone to be able to afford to buy enough food was backed by 90 per cent of those surveyed, 15 per cent of whom had directly experienced poverty in life.

And there was a consensus that living in poverty was possible while also being in work, 85 per cent agreed with that.

They were also pretty clear that the situation was deteriorating – 66 per cent believe poverty has worsened in the last five years, three quarters insisted the gap between rich and poor has widened and 70 per cent of people found it harder to pay for essentials.

The figures are a “call to action” according to Trussell Trust chief executive Emma Revie.

“Individuals, driven by compassion and justice, are doing what they can to help people facing hunger, but they want to see things change,” she said. “It’s now time for our government to do its part, and ensure these strongly-held values are lived out in policies that anchor people from poverty.

“It’s in our power as a country to end the need for food banks. To reach that future, we need to make sure everyone has enough money for the essentials. Ensuring our benefits system can anchor people from the rising tide of poverty would make the biggest difference.”

The Trust account for around a quarter of foodbanks in the food aid network but 70 per cent of people surveyed would like to see the foodbanks no longer exist while 51 per cent believe that they are an embarrassment to the country.

The majority also point the finger at the government – 55 per cent believe they are responsible for addressing the problem of hunger while 61 per cent insist that Westminster policies have driven them into poverty.

And despite the notable absence of any legislation to tackle hunger in the Queen’s Speech earlier this week, 47 per cent of Brits say poverty is one of the most important issues facing the country right now.

For the national foodbank charity, the policy changes that could make an immediate difference are familiar – ending the five-week wait for Universal Credit and ending the benefit freeze to ensure that welfare support reflects the true cost of living.

A DWP spokesperson responded with the claim that tackling poverty is a “priority” for the government.

“Tackling poverty is a priority for this government – 400,000 people have been lifted out of absolute poverty since 2010, there are more people in work than ever before and wages continue to outpace inflation,” they said.

“But we know some families need more support, which is why we’re spending £95 billion a year on the welfare safety net to prevent families from falling through the cracks.”

The Big Issue spent the summer investigating holiday hunger, discovering how a lack of access to free school meals intensifies hunger while children are on school holidays.

We are currently running a petition to tackle one of the leading causes of holiday hunger – how paying for childcare costs upfront before being reimbursed later pushes parents on Universal Credit into poverty.

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.
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