Parents skip meals so families don’t go hungry

More than one in four people in the UK have skipped meals, gone without food to feed their family or relied on family or friends to provide food over the past year, a new report has revealed.
Almost two-thirds of UK households will cut back on heating to provide food. Picture: Phil WilkinsonAlmost two-thirds of UK households will cut back on heating to provide food. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Almost two-thirds of UK households will cut back on heating to provide food. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

The research by food bank charity the Trussell Trust, food distribution organisation FareShare and supermarket giant Tesco, showed that 40 per cent of households across the UK have seen their financial situation worsen over the last year as household incomes fail to keep pace with rising costs.

Just over a quarter of those surveyed say that they have struggled to buy the same amount of healthy and nutritious food as they did a year ago, while almost two thirds admit that they will go cold by cutting back on heating to provide food for their families.

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Tesco, which is today to launch a nationwide food collection at its stores for the 400 foodbanks in The Trussell Trust foodbank network and the 1,000 UK charities supported by FareShare, said their survey had found that 20 per cent of people who have experienced food poverty themselves would donate to a food collection, food bank or a related charity, though they continue to struggle themselves.

“Signs are that the economy is improving, but we know that consumers are not feeling it in their pockets just yet,” said Chris Bush, managing director of Tesco UK.

Mr Bush said that previous collections had proved Falkirk to be in the top three most generous areas of the UK in terms of the amount of food donated.

Lindsay Boswell, chief executive of FareShare, said: “This shocking research confirms what we’re seeing on the ground; people across the country are finding it incredibly tough.”

The latest consumer confidence tracker from Tesco-owned customer insight firm Dunnhumby, also published today, shows that while consumer confidence in the UK overall is improving, lower-income families continue to feel under greater financial pressure and remain concerned about their future economic situation.

The report found that 33 per cent of lower-income consumers are worried about job security, 33 per cent are concerned about mortgage or rental payments and 53 per cent are worried about household bills.

“The deeply distressing reality for Britain this Christmas is that thousands of families will struggle to put food on the table,” said Chris Mould, chief executive of the Trussell Trust.

He said 60,000 people will receive food from Trussell Trust foodbanks in the two weeks over Christmas, including 20,000 children. “We’re already meeting parents who are choosing between eating and heating. Rising fuel prices mean that this winter is looking bleak for people on the breadline,” he added.

50% of adults overspend by £150 a month

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Half of Brits are living beyond their means, a study has revealed, with one in ten spending more than they can afford, to “appear” better off.

The report found that not earning enough to cover living expenses, wanting to be able to buy things for their children and struggling to resist the lure of buying new things mean half of all adults overspend by almost £150 a month.

The research, commissioned by financial firm Aviva, found that others spend more money than they earn to create an image of false wealth and do not realise they are overspending until it is too late.

Tim Orton, product director for Aviva UK Pension & Investments, who commissioned the study, said: “It has been a tough few years for people financially. Money has been tight, but worryingly, rather than cutting back, it seems there are some who are continuing to live way beyond their means.

“Given the level of debt in the country and an ageing population, it’s hard to see how future governments will be able to support people in the way they have in the past.”

SSE chief warns of ‘old houses’

The head of retail economics at one of the “big six” energy firms has warned that British householders are wasting money by failing to sufficiently insulate their houses.

Writing in today’s Scotsman, Richard Westoby, director of retail economics at Perth-based SSE, said: “The way we consume energy has a big impact on the bills we pay. Too many of us live in old and draughty houses which can push up bills.”

He pointed to a report by fuel poverty campaign group Energy Bill Revolution, which compared the UK to Sweden and found that Britain enjoys comparatively low gas and electricity prices and an average household income comparable to the Scandinavian country.