For many Britons, a harsh winter awaits, as inflation soared and energy and food prices rose sharply in the past year. The hardest hit are groups who were already financially vulnerable – and who may now have to choose between heating their homes or buying food.
According to a survey conducted by the British consumer organisation Which? A third of the country’s single parents say they skip certain meals because of the high cost of living.
Shona Goody, an analyst with UK charity The Food Foundation, points out that single parents were already in a tough spot before prices skyrocketed.
– No matter how hard they try, these parents often find it difficult to get enough money to feed their children. Among other things depending on the fact that they have a low income, because they often cannot work full time due to insufficient childcare. And worrying about not being able to afford to let kids eat their fill causes tremendous stress, which in turn affects parents’ mental and physical health, she told TT.
Come to school hungry
And more and more British teachers in economically disadvantaged areas are sounding the alarm about children showing up hungry at school, stealing food from classmates, or skipping school lunch because they can’t afford it.
The person who grew up in poor conditions is the British football star Marcus Rashford. For several years now, together with The Food Foundation, among others, he has been running a campaign to bring attention to more children from poor homes for free school meals. According to Shauna Gowdy, many children today are falling through the cracks.
– About 800,000 children living in poverty in England are not entitled to free school meals, because they come from families who end up above the prevailing income limit. For these children, the situation is very serious and will get worse during the winter, when food and energy prices are expected to rise further, she says.
According to Shona Gowdy, the consequences of living in food poverty are also significant.
– People living in financial vulnerability tell us that children are affected the most. Not knowing how to get to the next meal of food, she says, has a far-reaching impact on people’s lives.
Food inflation in Great Britain reached a record 16.4 per cent in October, the highest level since 1977. On top of it all, prices of staples such as milk, butter, cheese and eggs have soared – significantly increasing pressure on the country’s food banks.
The number of Britons forced to turn to one of the country’s food banks has also increased by 40 per cent this year compared to last year, according to the charity Trussell Trust’s tally. Many of these are single parents.
One in ten in this group has visited a food bank in the past two months – compared to three percent of other Britons.
Many of the country’s biggest charities are now urging Britons to donate money or food to meet the growing need for help – and for the most financially vulnerable families, the crisis can have devastating health effects, according to Shona Goody.
– After soaring food prices, many families can barely afford the food they need – and families in economic weakness cannot afford any healthy food. The result is that children either go hungry or survive on lower-quality food, which leads to an increase in obesity in this group, she said.
– The situation is very dangerous. There is help to be had, but we worry it won’t be enough.
According to a survey conducted by the British consumer organization Which? A third of single parents in the country skip certain meals due to the sharp rise in food prices.
The Joseph Rowntree charity reports that more than 14.5 million people live in poverty in the UK. 4.3 million of them are children.
In October, electricity and gas prices rose by 80 percent in the country, and another increase is expected in January.
Rampant energy prices have so far led to some 257,000 Britons joining the Don’t Pay UK initiative, whereby consumers are collectively asked to refuse to pay their bills.
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