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Insight of the Day: Who is experiencing food insecurity in the UK?

The recent increase in food prices has led to a significant rise in food insecurity in the UK, particularly affecting low-income households. Here are the key insights from the article:

1. Magnitude of Food Insecurity: The number of people in 'food insecure' households increased to 7.2 million in 2022/23, marking a significant rise of 2.5 million people since 2021/22. This represents an increase from 7% to 11% of the population experiencing food insecurity.

2. Definition of Food Insecurity: Household food insecurity is categorized into 'low food security', where households reduce the quality and variety of their diets, and 'very low food security', where members may disrupt eating patterns due to lack of resources for food.

3. Rise in Food Prices: The main reason for the increase in food insecurity is attributed to a sharp rise in food prices in 2022/23. Food and drink inflation peaked at 19.1% in March 2023, the highest rate since 1977.

4. Impact on Low-Income Households: Low-income households are particularly affected by rising food prices, as they allocate a larger proportion of their spending to essentials. In 2021/22, households in the lowest 10% income bracket spent 15% of their budget on food and non-alcoholic drinks, compared to 9.2% for the highest 10%.

5. Groups Vulnerable to Food Insecurity:

- Children: 17% of children, 11% of working-age adults, and 3% of pensioners were in food insecure households in 2022/23.

- Disabled People: 18% of disabled individuals lived in food insecure households, compared to 9% of non-disabled individuals.

- Families Where Nobody Works: 17% of people in families where nobody worked experienced food insecurity, compared to 9% in families with at least one working adult.

- Ethnic Groups: Black/African/Caribbean/Black British households and those from Mixed or multiple ethnic groups were more likely to experience food insecurity.

- Geographic Variation: The North East and North West of England had the highest rates of food insecurity, while Northern Ireland had the lowest.

- Housing Tenure: Social rented sector tenants were much more likely to experience food insecurity compared to private renters or homeowners.

6. Food Bank Usage: The increase in food insecurity has been mirrored by a rise in food bank usage, with 3% of the UK population using food banks in 2022/23. The Trussell Trust reported a record high of 1.5 million emergency food parcels provided between April and September 2023, with 65% of these going to families with children.

Overall, the data highlights the pressing issue of food insecurity in the UK, particularly among vulnerable groups, and underscores the need for targeted interventions to address this challenge.

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