Nearly two million Londoners struggle to afford or access enough food
Almost two million Londoners – of which an estimated 400,000 are children under 16 - struggle to afford or access enough food, new statistics published today by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, suggest.
The statistics are the result of a survey which asked thousands of Londoners about their ability to afford or access food in order to gauge their level of ‘food security’. From the results it is predicted that 1.5 million adults in London have low or very low food security.
Reports of inadequate access to food were highest amongst children in East London (32 per cent) and lowest in South West London (nine per cent) and of the adult Londoners struggling, 40 per cent were either black or Asian.
The survey also indicates that more than a quarter of parents in the capital have struggled to find sufficient food in the past year.
The survey was commissioned by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and carried out by NatCen, in order to better understand the experiences of Londoners. It looked at issues relating to inequality, discrimination and financial circumstances as well as access to food and fuel.
The findings show the poorest Londoners on the lowest incomes were also the most likely to have low food security, with 62 percent of people with inadequate access to food owing money on a loan or credit agreement. There are also some groups of people who are particularly vulnerable to not having money to buy enough food, which includes single parents, unemployed people and disabled Londoners.
The Mayor has set out a number of initiatives to help tackle the high rates of child poverty and inequality which drive food insecurity for vulnerable Londoners.
City Hall works closely with trade unions, businesses and civil society organisations to promote economic fairness and the Mayor has made championing the London Living Wage and responsible employment practices through his Good Work Standard – set to launch shortly - a priority.
However, City Hall can only do so much and the vast majority of levers for tackling poverty and inequality lie with the Government. The Mayor is calling on the next Prime Minister to reverse nine years of cuts to welfare support and public services, and to make the eradication of poverty and inequality a top priority.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “Economic inequality is one of the defining issues of our times and our society cannot continue like this. It is simply unacceptable that in a city as wealthy as London, there are still millions of people regularly going without the food they need.
“This report has shed light on the reality of life for the poorest Londoners, who not only struggle to feed themselves due to their precarious financial circumstances but are often unable to feed their children.
“It’s time for us to take a fundamental look at who we are as a country, and to say that enough is enough. This level of poverty and inequality is not inevitable. The new Prime Minister must make tackling inequality their defining mission in office – and start by reversing the damage caused by nine years of austerity policies.”
Claire Pritchard, CEO, Greenwich Co-operative Development Agency said: “As an organisation that has worked to address poverty as the underlying driver of food insecurity since 1982, we have witnessed first hand the surge in demand for our services over the last few years.
“In Greenwich, we supported a food poverty needs assessment, so we welcome the fact the Mayor has delivered on his commitment to measure food insecurity across London, which reveals the true scale of this distressing issue and will help us tackle some of the root causes.”
Anna Taylor OBE, Executive Director of Food Foundation said: “We urgently need a better understanding of food insecurity across the UK, so these new data are crucial, showing that 400,000 children in London live in households that struggle to put enough nutritious food on the table.
“The Children’s Future Food Inquiry was told directly by young people in this country that they don’t have enough to eat, and that the food their parents can afford is harming their health.
“Food insecurity is hindering the growth of our children, crippling their confidence and making it impossible to learn and develop. The young people we spoke to are calling for a new, independent Children’s Food Watchdog: it’s time we worked with them to poverty proof their futures and uphold every child’s ‘Right2Food’.”
Notes to editors
• Details of the statistics cited in this release can be found here - https://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/food-security-2019
• The full findings from the Survey of Londoners covering social integration, economic fairness and food security will be published tomorrow - https://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/survey-of-londoners-headline-findings
• The survey received responses from 6601 adults* and assessed Londoners relationships with each other, their participation in society and the level of equality between people in the city. The findings will be used to fill evidence gaps and improve analysis and policy making at City Hall.
• Food security means having financial and physical access at all times to an adequate and nutritious diet. Examples include skipping meals, reducing portion sizes to make food stretch or running out of money to buy food.
• Food security levels were categorised from high and marginal to low or very low.
• *For the purposes of the survey, an adult was defined as a person aged 16 or over.