Hunger Report Asks 'Fundamental Questions' of Today's Britain

by Gerry Lynch last modified 08 Dec, 2014 10:36 AM

Bishops of Salisbury and Sherborne respond to landmark report

Hunger Report Asks 'Fundamental Questions' of Today's Britain

Bishop Nicholas after giving evidence to the Food Poverty Inquiry when it came to Salisbury in June. (c) Alabaré.

The Bishops of Salisbury and Sherborne have  said a report by MPs and Peers on hunger in Britain asked ‘fundamental questions’ about the society we are choosing to be in today’s Britain.

The Right Revd Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury, contributed evidence to the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger in the United Kingdom, and was present at the report’s launch by the Archbishop of Canterbury this morning. The Inquiry involved politicians from both the Conservative and Labour Parties, as well as the Bishop of Truro.

Bishop Nicholas said, “This is a serious report which is only partly about food poverty and food banks. It asks some very fundamental questions about what sort of society we choose to be. The report's recommendations will be debated but they set a clear agenda for politicians and all of us, particularly as we approach a General Election.

“I am grateful to everyone who contributed to the inquiry and to the key people who led it, including John Glen, Salisbury's MP, and the Bishop of Truro.”

The report makes 77 recommendations, including the creation of a national ‘Feeding Britain’ network of organisations providing emergency food assistance, steps to tackle food waste, steps to tackle the higher prices poorer people often pay for utilities like gas and water, and reforms to the benefits system to prevent people falling through its cracks.

The Inquiry visited Salisbury to take evidence as it was being researched.

The Right Revd Graham Kings, Bishop of Sherborne, spoke to BBC Radio Solent’s Breakfast in Dorset programme about the report, saying, “Hunger makes poverty visible, although the inquiry was especially on food hunger, it has dug deeper to find out what's behind it.

“One recommendation of the report was to end the government subsidy to food industry. People will be rightly shocked that the government subsidises supermarkets to throw away food. Only 2% of usable food is used for charitable purposes rather than simply being thrown away.

“My predecessor as Bishop of Sherborne, Tim Thornton, who is now in Truro, has done a good job with this report. Back in 1942, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, wrote Christianity and the Social Order which was instrumental in laying the foundation for the post-War welfare state. This report, whose publication was funded by the Archbishop of Canterbury, could well have a similar impact on reshaping it. 

“As someone who is part of the Dorset Living Wage Campaign, I am particularly delighted to see the Inquiry recommend a rise in the National Minimum Wage. I am also pleased it has highlighted some problems that we should not be having in 2014, like hunger at school and the higher cost poorer people pay for basic utilities.”

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