South Shields MP’s bill to tackle food poverty makes progress in Parliament

South Shileds MP Emma Lewell-Buck.
South Shileds MP Emma Lewell-Buck.

A Parliamentary Bill to combat people going hungry, presented by South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck, has unanimously passed its first hurdle.

The Food Insecurity Bill, which aims to tackle food poverty across the country, called on the Government to start measuring the scale of the problem across the UK to create a more accurate picture of the issue so that policies can be changed to tackle it.

More and more people relying on foodbanks.

More and more people relying on foodbanks.

Mrs Lewell-Buck’s 10-minute Rule Bill was unanimously passed in Parliament on Wednesday - detailing how the Government can adopt a system which is cost neutral to the tax-payer by inserting questions regarding hunger into existing surveys such as the Living Costs and Food Survey.

Mrs Lewell-Buck wasnts to see existing questions swapped for those such as “how often in the last 12 months have you been unable to buy food?” to find out the reasons why people are going without food.

In Mrs Lewell-Buck she said her call for measurement of hunger has been supported by chartities like The Food Foundation, Sustain, Oxfam and the cross party Environment and Rural Affairs Select Committee of the House of Commons.

In Parliament she said: “With this bill, I am giving the Government the opportunity to rectify this data gap and robustly measure levels of hunger in the UK, because we all know that what gets measured gets done.”

Now that the survey has passed its first reading in the House of Commons, it will go on to a second reading - due to take place in February - and, if successfull, it would go to a committee stage before finally becoming an Act of Parliament.

Mrs Lewell-Buck said the bill is something that she has been working towards since 2014 and that people are going hungry as a direct result of Government policies.

She said: “It has passed to the second reading which is good.

“It has been a long process but it has got to the point now where the Government can do it and it is cost neutral.

“For a good few years now austerity measures and low pay has led to people going to food banks to get by, but there is no measuring tool in this country to measure how many people are going hungry.”

She added: “We have found a way of making the Government measure this properly by using questions in a survey that the government already do and have suggested they take out questions from the existing survey and put in questions which establish a picture of what is going on.”