The Right to Food: Liverpool and Manchester

Food poverty: Food poverty is commonly defined as ‘the inability to acquire or consume an adequate or sufficient quantity of food in socially acceptable ways, or the uncertainty that one will be able to do so’.

It can have a detrimental impact on physical and psychological wellbeing so it’s important for a person to have access to and the choice of an affordable, acceptable and healthy diet throughout their life

Public Health Scotland

Debated in Parliament on Tuesday 16 January 2018: Food Poverty: Merseyside

Stephen Twigg:

[…] Food poverty is a growing public health concern. A lack of access to the nutritious food needed for a balanced diet increases the burden on the national health service. Liverpool has seen a significant rise in the number of fast food outlets coincide with a rise in food poverty. The city of Liverpool has the 34th highest outlet density of 325 local authorities, and the areas with the highest density tend to be in the most deprived parts of the city. One of the strongest measures of a healthy diet is how often people manage to eat five portions of fruit and veg a day. Liverpool has the 29th lowest proportion of the population managing that; Manchester is the only core city with a proportion that is lower still.

Liverpool City Council has tried to address the challenge by teaming up with a brilliant local social enterprise, Can Cook. Using donations, Can Cook has produced food packages containing predominantly fresh food, feeding local people with nutritious food for five days. I take this opportunity to praise the work of Can Cook in its efforts to make healthy food parcels available to people, and to thank the Liverpool Echo, which teamed up with Can Cook for a significant fundraising campaign in 2016. That is just one example of the ways people across Liverpool, including Liverpool City Council, are striving to help the poorest in our city. […]

I want to see an end to food poverty not just in Merseyside, but across the whole of the United Kingdom. For that to happen, it will require a fundamental change in Government policy on benefits, wages and the funding of local authorities. I am pleased to have had the opportunity today to highlight the scale of the challenge we face and to pay tribute to the amazing response of local communities across Liverpool. Local people have risen to the challenge of addressing food poverty. I urge the Minister and the Government to change course so that together we can finally defeat food poverty once and for all.


19 February 2021: Sustain: Greater Manchester becomes first city-region to support ‘Right to Food’ campaign

Greater Manchester Leaders call for the ‘Right to Food’ to be enshrined in national legislation

Greater Manchester has become the first city-region to support a campaign which calls for the ‘Right to Food’ to become a legal requirement.

A letter, co-written by Greater Manchester Leaders, will be sent to the National Food Strategy Lead calling for the 10m people currently living in food poverty to be at the heart of the strategy and urging for ‘Right to Food’ to become enshrined in legislation.

Greater Manchester Leaders say a change in law would make it necessary for a range of public bodies to take action to ensure everyone is able to access essential food. Although not a solution to poverty on its own, legislation could result in wider measures to improve the quality of people’s lives across the city-region.

Read more:

20 January 2021: Sustain: Liverpool is England’s First Right to Food city

Liverpool is the first city in the country to back the right to food.

Liverpool City council voted unanimously to pass a motion on the right to food on Wednesday the 20 January and in doing so became the first right to food city in England.

The motion calls on Liverpool council’s Chief Executive to write a letter to Henry Dimbleby asking him to include the right to food in Part Two of the National Food Strategy for England that is due to be published later this year.

Whilst successive UK Governments have made commitments on the right to food on an international stage, there has yet to be an incorporation of this right into domestic legislation. 

Right to food campaigners, including the Sustain’s Right to Food programme, see better recognition of this fundamental human right as key to tackling the extremely high levels of household food insecurity in the UK.

This is the agenda item/motion:

Liverpool City Council Meeting – Wednesday, 20th January, 2021 5.05 p.m.
Proposal: Right to Food by Councillors Ian Byrne and Alison Clarke

We are seeing a crisis of food poverty born out of the political choices and systemic failings created over the past four decades, which have now reached a tipping point for so many in our communities. The figures are devastating for one of the richest nations in the world and highlight the inequality of the UK in 2020. 

The Trussell Trust reports a soaring 81% increase in emergency food parcels from food banks in its network during the last two weeks of March 2020 compared with the same period in 2019, including a 122% rise in parcels given to children as the coronavirus pandemic continued to unfold. 

This Council notes the consistent high rates of poverty across our city.  We recognise the growing concern amongst our health and care professionals of the current situation and the likely exacerbation of poverty figures through the impact of the Covid19 pandemic and economic uncertainty as we enter 2021. 

From April to October this year in Liverpool, we have seen, 10,296 Urgent Needs Awards (emergency cash awards to low income households for essentials such as food and fuel); an increase of 56% compared to the same period in 2019/20. 

DWP data reports that households on Universal Credit in Liverpool has increased from 30,700 in February to 58,500 by October, a 90.5% increase. 

The National Food Strategy is the first independent review of England’s entire food system for 75 years.  Its purpose is to set out a vision for the kind of food system we should be building for the future, and a plan for how to achieve that vision. It is headed by Henry Dimbleby and next reports to Government in early 2021. 

The Right To Food campaign is arguing that the 11 million people in food poverty should be central to this strategy. 

Enshrining the ‘Right To Food’ into law would clarify Government obligations on food poverty and would introduce legal avenues to hold Government bodies accountable for violations.

Read more:

Food, Poverty, Health and Environment Committee: Lords Select Committee

The committee is appointed to consider the links between inequality, public health and food sustainability.