Food charities in Shropshire join calls for more Government action on fuel crisis

Food charities have backed a national coalition call for more action from Government on the energy crisis.

Shrewsbury Food Hub
Shrewsbury Food Hub

As Chancellor Jeremy Hunt crosses the final T's on Thursday's autumn statement the Warm This Winter campaign and more than 60 charities are demanding more support for households currently in fuel poverty.

Backed by an End Fuel Poverty Coalition poll that shows the vast majority of West Midlands voters believe the Government should do more to help people with their energy bills, the charities have written to PM Rishi Sunak.

Shropshire food charities say urgent support is needed to address what one calls the “cost of subsisting crisis”.

Shrewsbury Food Hub

Simon Lellow of Telford Crisis Support, which operates a foodbank in the Halesfield area, said: “For many in our local community the cost of living crisis has been a reality for too long. What many of us are currently experiencing could be better described as a cost of subsisting crisis.

"Rises in the price of food, home energy, and rent continue to outpace wages and benefits. We share a moral responsibility to ensure that everyone in our country has a decent standard of living.

“No one should have to go without the basic essentials to keep themselves and their families sheltered, fed, clean, clothed, warm, and healthy - we must all support the changes that can solve poverty and improve lives.”

Also in reaction to the survey findings, Shrewsbury Food Hub manager Tammy Bloodworth said: “The feedback we are getting from community partners confirms the pressure that the energy crisis and increase in food prices is putting on families.

"Numbers at Foodshares are increasing and we are being inundated with requests for food from local groups. As we go through winter, the situation will only get worse for families who are already struggling.

“Surplus food is useful, but it is not the solution to food poverty. We have been working with Shropshire Food Poverty Alliance and Shropshire Good Food Partnership to support our community and raise awareness of the help available, and to call on the Government to urgently do more.”

Shrewsbury Food Hub

The letter goes on to call for the upweighting of benefits and urgent clarification of energy bills support available from April 2023, a massive programme of energy efficiency measures and speeding up moves to cheaper renewable energy.

Even taking into account the Energy Price Guarantee and the Energy Bills Support Scheme pledged by the Government, almost a quarter (24 per cent) of those surveyed from the West Midlands think that after winter, they will be in arrears with their energy firm.

Nationally, more than eight in 10 (83 per cent) are very or quite worried about the prospect of bills going up further in April 2023 when the current Government support programmes run out.

The survey follows figures compiled by End Fuel Poverty showing that 30.7 per cent of households in the West Midlands, the highest proportion of any English region, were set to be in fuel poverty in October.

Shrewsbury Food Hub redistributes surplus food from local supermarkets, manufacturers and farms that would otherwise go to waste to local charities and groups. It also supports 12 community Foodshares, where everyone who is struggling financially is welcome to collect a few bags of food.

In 2020/21 Shrewsbury Food Hub reports that it:

  • rescued 175 tonnes of good food that would have gone to waste

  • mitigated 530 tonnes of greenhouse gases – equivalent to NOT driving 70 times around the world

  • supported 56 community groups and Foodshares

  • redistributed enough food for 416,000 meals

  • saved community partners more than 40 per cent of their food budget

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