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25,000 poorer Londoners missing out on £6million that could reduce food poverty

A new report from food charity Sustain (the alliance for food and farming) tracks progress made by boroughs on addressing food poverty in the capital. The report presents findings of responses to Sustain’s survey against 9 measures; 28 out of 33 responded to this survey.

  • First ever food poverty league table for London boroughs reveals postcode lottery for poorer Londoners
  • Only one third of London boroughs have a distinct plan to tackle food poverty

The report presents a mixed picture of progress and some worrying gaps in London’s safety net. The total scores for how well boroughs are doing on tackling food poverty vary between 17 and 79 per cent.

There is also a significant shortfall in the number of Londoners benefiting from a range of national and local programmes that could help tackle food poverty including Healthy Start vouchers, food provision during the school holidays and meals on wheels. For example, the report shows  how over 25,000 London households are losing out on over £6 million worth of Healthy Start vouchers, which would help low income families to buy fresh fruit and vegetables. This programme should be championed more consistently across the capital.

The report includes a number of good practice examples and sets out specific actions which London boroughs can take including: 

  • Developing  a comprehensive plan to reduce food poverty
  • Promoting uptake of national programmes, including Heathy Start vouchers, Baby-Friendly accreditation, free school meals and financial support
  • Maximising their role as a commissioning and oversight body, for example by drawing together partners to tackle hunger during the school holidays; maximising the value of meals on wheels; fostering local access to affordable healthy food; and expanding the London Living Wage 

“Our report sets out a number of ways which London boroughs can address the drivers behind food poverty. We know that local authority budgets are under pressure, but taking action to prevent food poverty can make real differences to the lives of those most in need. I encourage all London boroughs to develop and implement a food poverty action plan which includes recommendations from our report.”

Simon Shaw, Food Poverty Campaign Coordinator at Sustain

“The Mayor and I find it unacceptable that in a city as prosperous as London, so many people are unable to afford to feed themselves and their families. We commend everyone for all the work highlighted in today’s important report. It shows the real progress that’s been made by London’s local authorities in tackling this problem. However, it highlights the fact that there is plenty more to do to end food poverty in the capital and City Hall will be working closely with the boroughs and other partners to support them as they tackle this crucial issue. But we know that local authorities can’t do this alone. Government also needs to do more to recognise the growing scale of the problem and take action. We hope this report will underline how important and urgent this is.”

Matthew Ryder, Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement

London is often seen as an affluent city, and an engine of wealth-creation for the rest of the UK. But this perception masks high levels of deprivation and extreme levels of inequality. Food poverty is part of this darker picture.

You can read the report here.