The increasing threat to food security in Brighton & Hove and how you can help

As we move into the colder seasons, more people than ever are expected to struggle to afford food.  There are many factors contributing to this ‘pinch point’ including changes to tax/benefits, low wages, increased cost of living as food, rent and fuel become more expensive, and supply chain issues.  

In Brighton and Hove a minimum of 5,460 people benefitted from the Emergency Food Network in the last year. The primary reason identified for emergency food use was low income so we expect this number to increase with mounting financial pressures.

Find out more about national campaigns to address these issues below, and how you can help.

Universal Credit  

The £20 per week ‘uplift’ to Universal Credit (UC) installed during the pandemic is set to be removed imminently. This will impact families and individuals quickly and drastically. There were 28,480 people in Brighton and Hove claiming UC in August 2021 and all will be affected by this cut (this figure does not include their children). 

Jack Monroe, a food campaigner, and writer has illustrated just what £20 looks like in basic groceries: 

https://twitter.com/BootstrapCook

We have joined the national #KeepTheLifeline campaign, and members of the Emergency Food Network in Brighton and Hove are joining together to campaign against the biggest reduction to social security since World War Two. Below we outline the many reasons that low-income households are under increasing pressure right now.

End of furlough 

The government job retention scheme ended this week and forecasts predict that this will lead to a rise in unemployment. In the South East 24,9600 people were employed on furlough in June 2021.

Fuel prices 

Gas and electricity prices have increased by £139 for those on a standard tariff and £153 for those using a prepayment meter (typically used by lower-income households) and this figure is set to rise again in April 2022. Millions of UK families may be faced with the decision whether to ‘heat or eat’. Additionally, petrol prices have risen and will continue to do so, and lower-income households are more vulnerable to ‘car-related economic stress’ as prices rise. 

Food availability  

Those on the lowest incomes spend the highest proportion of what they have on food. The poorest fifth of UK households need to spend 40% of their disposable income on food to afford a healthy balanced diet, compared to just 7% for the richest. Fewer supplies on the shelves and a rise in the cost of food in recent months have been noticed by many and again, rising costs will proportionally hit low-income households the most.

Other pressures 

Rent and house prices are rising quickly. Inflation is rising and there will be a 1.25% rise in national insurance from April 2022. The factors could force many working people (and their families), who are just currently getting by, into food insecurity.

What you can do to help

At our Annual General Meeting, Jo Ralling from Food Foundation highlighted three key recommendations in the National Food Strategy as part of their End Child Food Poverty campaign with Marcus Rashford:

1. Expand free school meals

2. Extend Healthy Start

3. Fund more free holiday clubs

On top of this, you can join the Trussell Trust’s #KeeptheLifeline campaign to stop the cut to Universal Credit as well as support your local food bank and community food group. Lower food supplies and donations are currently one of the main issues facing emergency food providers in the city so please donate what you can.

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