Agriculture Bill

Written evidence submitted by the Independent Food Aid Network (AB59)

Written Evidence submitted by the Independent Food Aid Network to the Agriculture Bill Committee

The addition of three words to the Agriculture Bill will support the essential monitoring of household food insecurity by Parliament


Introduction


We welcome the inclusion of Clause 17 in the Agriculture Bill, which places a duty to report to Parliament on UK food security. However, food security at a national level does not ensure that UK households are able to afford adequate and nutritious food . Household expenditure on food does not capture this either. To enable P arliament to have a thorough understanding of food security in the UK we recommend that household food insecurity is added to the list of metrics under Clause 17.

This is especially important given we know that an estimated 2% of UK households used a food bank between April 2018 and March 2019 [1] while up to 10% of UK households lived with moderate and severe food insecurity [2] . The use of food bank data as indicative of food insecurity levels is misleading given that the majority of people living with food insecurity do not access Trussell Trust or independent food banks.

The UK G overnment has recently begun measuring household food insecurity as part of the Family Resources Survey, and the first data will be available in the Spring of 2021. T he Food Standards Agency also coll ates data on household food insecurity as part of the Food and You Survey. Both surveys are using internationally recognised and validated metric s , and could be used to fulfil the duty to monitor and report to Parliament on UK household food insecurity levels.


The Independent Food Aid Network is calling for the following amendment to Clause 17:

17 Duty to report to Parliament on UK Food Security

(1) The Secretary of State must, at least once every five years, prepare and lay before Parliament a report containing an analysis of statistical data relating to food security in the United Kingdom.

(2) The data analysed in the report may include (among other things) data about the following matters-

(a) global food availability;

(b) supply sources for food (including the range of supply sources and the availability to the public of food from domestic and other sources);

(c) the resilience of the supply chain for food (including in response to disruptions in, or significant price increases for, the supply of energy);

(d) household expenditure on food (including in comparison to expenditure on other items);

(e) food safety and consumer confidence in food

(f) household food insecurity

About the Independent Food Aid Network:

The Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) is a charitable incorporated organisation which connects, supports and advocates on behalf of a range of independent food aid providers including independent food banks operating across the UK. Our vision is of a country which doesn’t need emergency food aid and in which good food is accessible to all. IFAN has led ground-breaking research to identify independent food banks across the UK. As a result, we know that over 829 independent food banks and food parcel distributors currently operate regularly at least once a week making up around 40% of the UK’s food bank total. This list of independent food banks does not include the at least 3,000 independent food aid providers operating beyond the food bank model and often supporting people in chronic need of food aid. Over the last year we have been working in partnership with A Menu for Change to collate emergency food parcel distribution data across Scotland. The first publication in March 2019 of collated figures from 84 Scottish independent food banks revealed that independent food parcel distribution almost doubled previously known data from the Trussell Trust. During 2020, we plan to also collate data from independent food banks operating in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

March 2020


[1] State of Hunger, Sosenko et al, 2019 and Independent Food Aid Network independent food bank data from Scotland.

[2] Food Standards Agency Food and You Survey, 2018.

 

Prepared 3rd March 2020