Thursday of last week was the last day in Parliament before the MPs closed their Westminster Offices. One of the MPs who stood up to ask a question was the Labour MP for Liverpool, West Derby called Ian Byrne. Along with Ian Byrne another Labour MP called Luke Pollard who is the Shadow Secretary to DEFRA took part in the discussion. The Conservative Minister who responded to both of their questions or comments was George Eustice who is the DEFRA Minister. It is very clear to George that a group of charities called FareShare needs to be funded. The irony is that Ian Byrne is a member of the EFRA Committee which back in April called for funds to be released to Provide additional funding for redistributing surplus food and after more than two months the Government turned this request away and failed to do so. So clearly we need George Eustice to review that. One way of persuading him to do so could be achieved by getting 100,000 people to sign this petition which I set out just a month ago. So far I have managed to get 630 signatures from my friends and contacts. We now need to raise this to a few more signatures. The Petition is available here. It states
“In April the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee called on the Government to provide ongoing funding to redistribute surplus food from the farmgate and across the supply chain to food aid providers. In June the Government said there were no plans for further grants. This should change.”
So now back to some of the questions and answers from Ian and George.
Ian Byrne: Department for Work and Pensions data has revealed the shocking fact that, pre-covid, 42% of households on universal credit were food insecure. With the planned removal of the £20 uplift to universal credit, what impact assessment has the Secretary of State’s Department completed on the impact of removing the uplift regarding the food security of the 6 million people on universal credit?
George Eustice: We regularly monitor household spending on food. It is important to note that last year household spending on food among the poorest 20% of households was the lowest on record, at about 14%. That said, we absolutely recognise that there are individual households that struggle to afford food. That is why the Government have brought forward a number of initiatives over the past 12 months to support them through groups such as FareShare, as well as the holiday activities and food scheme.
Clearly we need the Government to be persuaded to bring forward another initiative which is to help fund the FareShare charities to prevent surplus food from being destroyed or dumped.