Access to Affordable Food

You are right that the affordability of food is a serious issue and everyone has a right to nutritious and adequate food supply. High energy prices, exacerbated by events in Ukraine, mean that there have been pressures on food prices as a result of increased input costs.

I am aware of FareShare’s Campaign and appreciate your concerns about the increased pressures on living costs, including energy costs and the price of food. I would like to assure you that this is an issue that my ministerial colleagues and I take extremely seriously. I am aware that the Government has put in place a set of measures to help people deal with the rising cost of living, including £37 billion of support to households. Through the Energy Price Guarantee, the Government will limit a typical household's energy bill to £2,500 until April 2023, as well as further targeted support such as the £650 cost of living payment to those on means tested benefits including Universal Credit, and the £400 energy bill rebate. Additionally, local authorities have access to the £1.5 billion Household Support Fund to provide further support.

Regarding food banks, my ministerial colleagues and I recognise the data limitations in this area and from April 2021 introduced a set of questions into the Family Resources Survey to measure and track foodbank usage. I understand that the first results of these questions are due to be published in March 2023.

I am assured that the UK has a highly resilient food supply chain, as demonstrated throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Our high degree of food security is built on supply from diverse sources, strong domestic production as well as imports through stable trade routes. We produce 60 per cent of all the food we need, and 74 per cent of food which we can grow or rear in the UK for all or part of the year. I am aware that these figures have changed little over the last 20 years.

Finally, Ministers published the Food Security Report last year, which recognised the contribution made by British farmers to our resilience, and the importance of strong domestic production to our food security. This report will serve as an evidence base for future policy work.