News ID: 112567
Publish Date : 19 February 2023 - 21:35

Report: Record Number of Households in UK Depending on Food Banks

LONDON (The Guardian/ The Independent) – More people are depending on food banks than ever before in Britain, new figures show, as “ever-increasing” numbers of households – including pensioners, NHS staff and teachers – seek help amid the cost of living crisis.
New research by the Independent Food Aid Network (Ifan), shared with the Observer, found that almost 90% of food banks surveyed reported increased demand in December 2022 and January 2023 compared with a year earlier. Half of the 85 organizations running 154 food banks that responded said if demand rose further they would either have to cut support or turn people away.
The Trussell Trust, which with more than 1,300 food banks is the UK’s biggest provider, expects this winter will have been its busiest ever, warning in November that food banks were at “breaking point”. Between April and September alone it distributed 1.3mln emergency food parcels – a third more than the same period in 2021 and over 50% more than pre-pandemic.
Figures published last week by the Office for National Statistics showed how despite inflationary pressures easing, the cost of living crisis is still raging. Food inflation is at 16.7% and the cost of gas is nearly 130% higher than a year ago. The Office for Budget Responsibility forecast in November that households’ disposable income would fall by 4.3% in 2022-23, the largest drop since comparable records began in 1956.
A slump in wages in real terms and soaring inflation have triggered the most widespread strikes in the public sector in decades. A ballot of more than 45,000 junior doctors closes on Monday, with results expected to be announced later in the day.
Food banks are struggling to meet record demand from people who are in work – including NHS staff and teachers – the Ifan research found. More than 80% reported supporting a significant number of people for the first time, while many said demand was growing among pensioners and families with babies.
Sabine Goodwin, Ifan coordinator, said, “It’s very clear that people have been trying to muddle through the winter on credit and are now building up debts that will push people over the edge.”
Accusing the government of “unsustainable and unethical” reliance on charitable food aid, she said that without a change of approach there will be “nowhere for people to turn”.
Also in the UK, hundreds of thousands of British children are waiting for surgery with new figures showing the backlog has spiraled by almost 50 percent in two years as National Health Service (NHS) leaders and doctors warn that adult care is being prioritized over children’s.
The NHS data reveals that in December 2022, at least 364,000 children were waiting for their turn for treatment, whereas, another 200,000 were in dire need of therapy.
“Lengthy waits are unacceptable for any patient, but for children and young people, waits can be catastrophic, as many treatments need to be given by a specific age or developmental stage. It is not the same as for adults. If you miss the right window to treat a child, or wait too long, the consequences can be irrevocable,” Mike McKean, vice-president of policy at the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health told The Independent.
McKean also said that the intensive care capacity was being “pushed to the limits.”
Ever since April 2021, the child surgery backlog figures have skyrocketed to a new high, and have risen up by 48 percent, observing a whopping 36 percent increase in the figures.
An analysis of the figures shows that almost 3,000 children were waiting more than 18 months in November, while more than 15,000 were waiting for more than a year.
Many surgeries are also being postponed or cancelled just because of the staff, bed shortages at the NHS.