Several major charities have called on the Prime Minister to take urgent action to ensure vulnerable people do not go hungry in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The leaders of 15 charitable organisations, including the Trussell Trust, Church Action on Poverty and FareShare, have written to Theresa May calling for the creation of a ‘hardship fund’ for those who could be worst hit by Britain leaving the EU without a deal.
They warn that services that feed millions of people every day, such as meals on wheels and free school dinners, as well as supplies to food banks, homeless hostels and refuges, could all be hit by predicted spikes in food prices.
Children, the elderly, hospital patients and low-income families could all be affected, they say.
The letter adds: ‘The UN has estimated that 8.4 million people in the UK (half of them children) experience household food insecurity – missing meals or unable to afford adequate food.
‘Food price inflation caused by a no-deal Brexit is likely to affect these people, and the services providing food to support them, disproportionately.’
The charities are calling for the PM to come up with ‘detailed plans’ to help the people most vulnerable to food disruption, and to work with local authorities and frontline charities to mitigate the potential risks to food supply and prices.
They also ask for crisis funding for councils and public sector institutions to ensure food supplies can be guaranteed for those most in need.
Food charity Sustain, whose chief executive is one of the signatories on the letter, has previously called on the Government to set aside around £200 million to help institutions such as schools, hospitals and care homes secure food supplies in the case of a no-deal Brexit.
It warned that public institutions typically have little spare money or storage space to stockpile food, and risk losing out to commercial buyers in competition for supplies at a time of scarcity.
Frontline charities, community groups and food banks supporting people in greatest need – like the homeless and people in extreme poverty – could see supplies of donated food dry up, as supermarkets find it easier to sell products nearing their sell-by date.
Unconfirmed reports have suggested the Government is preparing a hardship fund for people vulnerable to the disruption expected if the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 29th March.
Bank of England governor Mark Carney warned MPs in December that food prices could surge by up to 10 per cent if the UK crashes out of the EU.
Picture: A wide range of goods with meat and fish, fruits and vegetables in a supermarket. (Klaus Ohlenschlger/DPA/PA).