Dr Carl Walker comments on the ‘Evidence Review for the All Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger in Britain’ published on December 8th:
“I was one of a range of experts, national anti-poverty organisations and campaigners who submitted written evidence as part of the review. I am also principal lecturer in psychology at the University of Brighton and community mental health researcher and chair of the European Community Psychology Association Task Force on Austerity and Mental Health.
“The Inquiry found in its evidence that hunger is affecting people in all corners of the country – in urban, rural, wealthy and deprived areas. The Inquiry heard that low-income households, particularly in rural parts of the county, are struggling with the higher costs of heating their homes, the costs of transport to and from work, as well as the often seasonal, part-time and low-paid nature of local employment.
“It showed that since 2004, Britain has experienced an explosion in the numbers of emergency food assistance providers. Almost every food bank and emergency food assistance provider submitting evidence to this Inquiry began operating only within the last decade. The numbers during this current coalition government are particularly damning with an increase from 128,697 to 913,138 between 2012 and 2014 in the numbers of people needing emergency food assistance.
“The evidence presented to the Inquiry overwhelmingly suggests that demand for emergency food assistance has rapidly increased over the last decade.
“What this report shows is that, contrary to George Osborne’s claims to engineering prosperity, the long term and persistent decreases in people’s income is leading to unprecedented and wholly unnecessary hunger. Since 2010 the real value of the National Minimum Wage has fallen every year as well as the value of real terms average earnings. This is compounded by the growth in low-paid, casual and temporary jobs that have been falsely celebrated as a sign of growth and prosperity.
“Now that we are approaching a general election, people can decide for themselves whether they think it is acceptable that more and more people in Britain are going hungry. Income poverty and hunger, and the related ill-health that these cause, are avoidable and preventable problems in Britain in 2014. Now is the time to act to put an end to the unfair and unnecessary austerity that has reduced people’s wages, increased income inequality, savaged our health services and made people hungry.”
Dr Carl Walker is the National Health Action Party parliamentary candidate for East Worthing and Shoreham.