Blackburn with Darwen among the worst areas for food security in England

The latest Office for Health, Improvement and Disparities figures show 58 per cent of Blackburn with Darwen residents, 89,234 people, suffering from food insecurity in 2021 – among the highest proportions in England.

Food insecurity is when people do not have consistent access to enough food that is varied, culturally appropriate, and can sustain an active and healthy lifestyle.

And these figures came as the Trussell Trust says more people across the UK used food banks in the six months to September than ever before.

Trussell Trust figures show 1.3 million food parcels were handed out across the UK in the six months to September – a 33 per cent increase in the same period in 2021, and the highest number on record.

Of them, 10,542 were given out in Blackburn with Darwen – up from 6,434 in the six months to September 2021.

Campaign group Feeding Britain said a strategy to ensure everyone can afford and access the food they need is desperately required.

Blackburn with Darwen Council’s Strategic Director for Adults and Health, Mark Warren, said: “The increase in food bank usage within Blackburn with Darwen is reflective of the current situation across the UK with many families finding it difficult to manage the cost-of-living increase.

“Blackburn with Darwen Council have responded and have been actively supporting its residents through work with local partners to provide food where it is most needed, increasing access to food through a number of innovative projects across the borough and across a wide demographic including the working population .

“Most significantly, from April this year all schools across Blackburn with Darwen have been offered significant grants to help provide food to their most vulnerable pupils and families.

“The grants will support around 8,000 of the most vulnerable pupils who would not normally be eligible for free school meals.

“Whilst this project is in its early stages, it is unique to the borough and is hoping to provide a number of sustainable benefits moving forward.

“Over the winter the council has worked with nearly 20 different providers across Blackburn with Darwen who were hosting warm spaces for vulnerable residents by funding over 13,000 warm meals within these settings.

“Moving into 2023/24 we are working closely with partners within the borough to develop a sustainable food club.

“Food clubs are situated across the UK in various guises but essentially all of them provide a ‘package’ of food to individuals and families at regular intervals at a greatly reduced price.”

Andrew Forsey, national director of Feeding Britain, said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak must publish a strategy to ensure people can afford and access healthy food.

Mr Forsey added that food clubs in Feeding Britain’s network “have never seen so many people”, including working families, seeking help with food.

Rachel Bull, head of policy and research at the Trussell Trust, said: “Food insecurity is a deeply concerning issue that spans the whole of the UK.

“We live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and yet what these statistics show is that hundreds of thousands of people in the UK are going without the essentials we all need to get by.

“We are urging the UK government to create an ‘Essentials Guarantee’ by changing the law to make sure the standard rate of Universal Credit always, at a minimum, provides enough to cover the cost of essentials such as food, utilities, and vital household goods.”

A Government spokesperson said it recognizes the pressures of the cost-of-living crisis and is “committed to eradicating poverty”.

They added: “We have uprated benefits by 10.1 per cent, as well as making an unprecedented increase to the National Living Wage this month.

“This is on top of changes already made to Universal Credit, which means claimants can keep more of their hard-earned money.

“We are also providing record levels of direct financial support for the most vulnerable – £1,200 last year and a further £1,350 in 2023-24 – while the Household Support Fund is helping people with essential costs.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top