UK cost of living crisis could prove ‘fatal’ for some children, campaigner Jack Monroe warns

Jack Monroe speaking to the House of Commons' work and pensions select committee

Food writer and anti-poverty campaigner Jack Monroe has warned that the UK cost of living crisis could prove “fatal” for some children.

Speaking to the House of Commons’ work and pensions select committee, Monroe highlighted the desperate need for called for benefits to be uprated in line with inflation, as the cost of living crisis continues to worsen.

As of January, 2022, prices in the UK had increased by 5.5 per cent in the last year, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

This increase in the cost of living has hit the most vulnerable the hardest, with a £20 food shop worth just two-thirds of what it did a few years ago, Monroe told MPs.

According to The Guardian, she said: “That’s not people deciding not to go to the theatre or not have legs of lamb or bottles of champagne.

“That is people deciding: ‘We won’t eat on Tuesday or Thursday this week’ or ‘we’ll turn the heating off’ or ‘we’ll skip meals’.”

Food insecurity is especially impacting children and disabled folk, and worsening physical health problems and mental illness, Monroe said.

This, Monroe said, could prove “fatal” for some, adding: “And that’s not a term that I use lightly.”

She continued: “In my experience of 10 years on the coalface of anti-poverty work, I can tell you that people are just eating less or skipping meals or having less nutritious food, bulking out on that 45p white rice and 29p pasta in lieu of being able to have fresh fruit and vegetables and nutritionally balanced meals.

“It’s not that food has got cheaper because it certainly hasn’t. It’s that everything else has got more expensive so there is less in the household budget for food.”

Jack Monroe said no one is ‘asking for the moon’, they just want to ‘feed their kids’

While Jack Monroe recently put pressure on Asda to reintroduce low-cost value food lines, which they had scrapped thinking “they could get away with it”, she added that the “onus on ensuring that people are able to feed themselves adequately and decently and nutritiously should not fall on the price point of pasta in a supermarket”, but on the government.

Benefits should be upped by at least 6 per cent this year, although the government has planned for only a 3.1 per cent increase, which she said would begin to “plug the gap” after benefits have failed to keep up with inflation for years on end.

It’s simply a matter of giving people the dignity and the advocacy to say: ‘This is what I need,’ and give it to them,” she continued.

“No one is asking for the moon. People just want to be able to pay their rent and feed their kids.”