Tory austerity has pushed 1.5 million below breadline and forced nearly 4 million people to use food banks
3.7 million adults in the UK have been forced to use food banks due to ”shocking” levels of deprivation, figures have revealed for the first time.
An exclusive poll commissioned by The Independent reveals one in 14 Britons has had to use a food bank, with similar numbers also forced to skip meals and borrow money as austerity measures leave them “penniless with nowhere to turn”.
The Independent reports: The findings come as a major report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) shows more than 1.5 million people were destitute in the UK last year alone, a figure higher than the populations of Liverpool and Birmingham combined.
This includes 365,000 children, with experts warning that social security policy changes under the Tory government were leading to “destitution by design”. Destitution is defined as people lacking two “essential needs”, such as food or housing.
The polling on food poverty, from a representative sample of 1,050 UK adults carried out for The Independent by D-CYFOR, suggests that 7 per cent of the adult population – or 3.7 million people – have used a food bank to receive a meal.
A million people have decreased the portion size of their child’s meal due to financial constraints, the survey says.
The results come after it emerged in April that the number of emergency meals handed out at food banks had risen at a higher rate than ever, soaring by 13 per cent in a year, with more than 1.3 million three-day emergency food supplies given to people in crisis in the 12 months to March.
The JRF report, carried out by Heriot-Watt University, found that among the tens of thousands of people who were recorded as being destitute last year, food was the most commonly lacked item, with 62 per cent within the group reporting that they had gone without over the past month.
Nearly half (47 per cent) had lacked basic toiletries, with 46 per cent lacking suitable clothing and 42 per cent having to go without heating. One in five destitute people reported lacking lighting at home, and 16 per cent had recently slept rough.
Margaret Greenwood, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, said: “These figures are shocking. After eight years of Conservative austerity, we are seeing destitution reappearing on our streets.