Disabled People Hit By Food Insecurity During Covid-19

The Food Foundation has recently released a report on Food insecurity levels since the beginning of the pandemic. It found that food insecurity remains higher than pre-COVID levels, affecting an estimated 4.7 million adults over the last six months.

This is equivalent to 9% of households but about 30% of adults with a severe disability.

The report which Dr Lisa Cameron is supporting has called on the Government to make food security a priority in the COVID-19 recovery phase and make the £20 Universal Credit uplift permanent.

Adults identifying as being limited by health problems or a disability were three times more likely to be food insecure than those without at the start of the pandemic. This gap has now widened to five times higher, which is alongside the rise in food insecurity amongst the population as a whole.

The Disability Benefits Consortium similarly found in January that 66% of the disabled people surveyed said they had to go without essentials like food, heating or medication because of increased costs since the pandemic started. The charity Wellchild also reported 100,000 children with severe medical conditions didn’t meet the criteria for food parcels and thus may have gone hungry.

Anna Taylor the Executive Director of Food Foundation commented; “We know that Covid-19 has dramatically widened inequalities in food security but the impact on people with disabilities is particularly concerning. Our most recent data shows that people with severe disabilities have five times greater levels of food insecurity than those without. These stark findings illustrate that we need better social and financial protection to ensure that our most vulnerable citizens can afford an adequate diet.

A key recommendation in our new report is for Government to make the £20 uplift to universal credit permanent and extend this lifeline to people on legacy benefits.”

Dr Lisa Cameron commented on the report saying, “The growing levels of food insecurity are extremely concerning amongst the most vulnerable with disabilities. In light of the 2021 budget announcement with still no rise in legacy benefits that are crucial to supporting the lives of many disabled people and no revaluation of the eligibility criteria, many will continue to go hungry. This is unacceptable in today’s society and I am strongly supporting the report’s recommendations for the

Government to make the Universal Credit uplift permanent and appoint a designated authority to be responsible for monitoring and tackling food insecurity long-term.”