Foodbanks now ‘a normal part of UK society’, warns Scots academic

A foodbank manager gives a fuel voucher to a client at the Trussell Trust Brent Foodbank, Neasden, London. Picture: PA
A foodbank manager gives a fuel voucher to a client at the Trussell Trust Brent Foodbank, Neasden, London. Picture: PA
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A UK Government goal of “ending poverty” in the country by 2030 is a remote possibility without a significant change in policy direction at Westminster, a Scots academic has warned.

Demand for foodbanks and crisis funds will continue to rise as the UK Government shows a disregard for the realities of poverty, according to a new report which tracks the country’s progress towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Professor John McKendrick of Glasgow Caledonian University said that poverty had continued to deepen across the UK, with life for the most vulnerable in society becoming more stressful.

His prediction was made in an analysis of poverty in the UK for Measuring Up, the first review of the UK’s performance against the UN’s 17 SDGs.

The review, which will be presented to MPs at the House of Commons today, stated the number of people in insecure work has risen to three million and the UK is struggling to address malnutrition in all forms, with food insecurity and obesity rising.

Prof McKendrick, co-founder of the Scottish Poverty and Inequality Research Unit, said: “The manner in which new provisions have been introduced, for example the back-payment cycles for Universal Credit creating short-term vulnerabilities, has shown a disregard for the realities of life for those with least resource.

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“Foodbanks are becoming a necessary part of the landscape of social support. Demand on crisis funds and welfare advice is increasing.

“Social security has been weakened in recent years, with significant reductions in the level of resource that is at the disposal of some of the UK’s most financially challenged citizens.”

Prof McKendrick, in his analysis of SDG 1, No Poverty, added: “The UK continues to deliver social security to protect its most vulnerable from the worst excesses of poverty at present and is concerned to promote social mobility to ensure that poverty does not persist across generations.

“However, the direction of travel for the UK Government seems to be against that which might be pursued to achieve the SDG1 goal of ‘ending poverty’.

“Unless the UK takes a different tack, everyday life for its most financially challenged will continue to become more stressed and the prospect of achieving sustainable development goal 1 – if conceived as a national indicator of income poverty – is a remote possibility.”

The report looks at each of the UN’s 17 SDGs and 169 target and uses both existing public policy and published data to understand the UK’s performance.