MPs call for more Government action on food security

The cross-party Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) select committee released a report calling on the Government to take food security more seriously, or risk serious public health consequences. The report called on the Government to revisit its response to the National Food Strategy, particularly on free school meals.

Sofia Parente

Read the full report here

The report states that a fifth of UK households are struggling to get access to affordable healthy food, leading them to turn to unhealthy alternatives. Without action, this will contribute to making 40% of the population obese by 2025. 

According to the Committee, the Government food strategy response fell short and “did not cover the topic at all or set out any actions to break the junk food cycle”.

The Sustainable Food Places programme submitted evidence from our network to the committee's inquiry last year which used by the Committee to evidence the insecurity of food donation supply chains and growing pressure on food air organisations.

SFP called on Government for practical interventions that put money in people’s pockets and nutritious food on plates, including committing to the National Food Strategy recommendations on Healthy Start vouchers, breakfast clubs and free school meals, extending the Household Support Fund and committing to the Real Living Wage to ensure more people don’t slip through the cracks into destitution. We also called on Government to follow the lead of devolved nations and champion local food strategies and partnerships at a national policy level.

The report including multiple recommendations for the Government which Sustainable Food Places fully supports:

  • Undertake a detailed study of the existing literature on the costs and benefits of extending FSM. This should include extending FSM for those children living in a Universal Credit claiming household, the impact of raising the means-test to £20,000 post-tax income but before claiming benefits, as well as removing the means-test altogether leading to universal provision.


  • Undertake and publish a full impact assessment of the introduction of a sugar and salt reformulation tax. The Government should submit this to the committee within three months of this report being published.


  • Forecast rates of being overweight and being obese had the HFSS food volume price promotions been introduced in October 2022. The regulations should also be broadened to exclude all price promotions of HFSS food, to ban meal deals where any element of a meal deal has to be cooked prior to eating, and to extend the regulations’ coverage to all food shops.


  • The Government should examine whether the totality of support to lower-income households is sufficient, and reduce reliance on food aid organisations.


  • Publish a detailed response to each of the National Food Strategy recommendations. The report made clear that Government food strategy report had fallen short. The Cabinet Office should undertake a comprehensive review of departmental responsibilities and structures regarding food policy and its various facets.


  • Publish a more up-to-date food security report, which should be published annually. The current UK Food Security report published in 2021 is out of date. The report should provide essential guidance to Defra and wider Government strategy on food security.


  • The Prime Minister should chair a dedicated food security summit later this year. Food security was not the focus of the summit this year, therefore it needs a fair hearing in a separate event.


  • Develop a suite of food security indicators covering both inputs and outputs and set targets for them, which should in turn influence food security policy. The Government should outline its approach to this in its Response and should launch the suite of indicators within 12 months of this Report’s publication.


  • Publish the Land Use Framework. The Land Use framework should not be overly prescriptive, but it should make clear what the Government’s priorities are and how it will help the private sector to achieve them.


The Government has two months to respond.

Read the full report here

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