Benefit sanctions causing a rise in hunger says public health expert
A public health expert has warned that ‘extremely harsh’ welfare sanctions are causing a rise in hunger and increase in food bank usage.
Vice president for policy at the Faculty of Public Health, John Middleton, has said that benefit delays were preventing people on low incomes from eating healthy diets and that a national healthy food policy should have greater emphasis on affordability, reports Inside Housing.
Statistics from the Health and Social Care Information Centre have revealed that the number of people admitted to hospital in England and Wales with malnutrition has risen by 19% over the past year.
The Faculty of Public Health says food prices have gone up by 12% since 2007, while at the same time wages fell by 7.6% in relative terms.
Dr Middleton said: “There are many reasons why some people can’t afford a healthy diet. One of the main reason people give for using food banks is that they have not been paid their benefits on time. The extremely harsh benefits sanctions regime being applied cuts off people’s incomes acutely and completely and causes hunger. Food poverty also affects hard-working families on low wages, whose household budgets have been stretched. We need to see a national healthy food policy with greater emphasis on access, affordability and nutritional value. We also need the living wage for everyone, given the public health benefits it would bring. After all, it cannot be right that people can be in full-time work and still struggle to make ends meet.”
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