UK government welfare cuts over the past decade have left families in England without enough food to eat, in a breach of the government’s duty to ensure adequate food.
The 115-page report, “Nothing Left in the Cupboards: Austerity, Welfare Cuts, and the Right to Food in the UK,” examines how deep, austerity-motivated cuts to the welfare system, exacerbated by the introduction of the Universal Credit system and other changes, have left many families with children in England going hungry and dependent on food aid from charities.
Many of these families are single-parent households led by women. Human Rights Watch found that the UK government is failing to meet its duty under human rights law to ensure the right to adequate food.
Kartik Raj, Western Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch, said:
“The way the UK government has handled its reduction in welfare spending has left parents unable to feed their children in the fifth-largest economy in the world.
“The UK government should ensure everyone’s right to food rather than expecting charities to step in and fill the gap.”
Human Rights Watch focused on three areas in England with high deprivation levels in Hull, Cambridgeshire, and Oxford. Human Rights Watch conducted 126 interviews, including with families affected by food poverty, volunteers, and staff in food banks and pantries, and community center and school staff; analysed official data and statistics; and reviewed information from the UK government and local authorities.
“Often, I have nothing left at the end of the week,” said a 23-year-old mother from Hull with a 4-year-old daughter who was unable to find employment that fit with her daughter’s school schedule, and relied on a low-cost community pantry which redistributes surplus food from supermarkets.
“When you’re a single mum there are very few jobs you can do that let you drop your child to school in the morning, then go to work and be back at 2.30 to pick them up. I skip meals, so my daughter can eat.”Read more