Benefits delays, low income and absence of free schools meal all contribute to food poverty in Norwich

Norwich Foodbank project manager Hannah Worsley, who will speak with councillors this afternoon. PHO

Norwich Foodbank project manager Hannah Worsley, who will speak with councillors this afternoon. PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

The extent of food poverty in Norwich was highlighted to city councillors tonight, as they began the process of looking for solutions to the issue.

Members of Norwich City Council's scrutiny committee heard from three speakers to try and determine the three most pressing causes of food poverty in the area.

According to the Food Standards Agency, food poverty is the inability of individuals and households to obtain an adequate and nutritious diet, often because they cannot afford healthy food or there is a lack of shops in their area that are easy to reach.

As part of the meeting, councillors heard from Hannah Worsley, from Norwich Foodbank. She said many of the people who seek help from them were working, contrary to the perception held by many.

Ms Worsley also provided recordings of some foodbank users. One user said: 'I had to use foodbank because I was starting my new job at the time and I had to wait for the wages to go into my bank account after a long time, and it had to be set up. So I had to have a food parcel in between because I didn't have enough food in the house and I had no money to buy what I needed.


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'It felt demeaning, it was embarrassing, and I didn't really like it. But if the foodbank wasn't available to me, I'd have had either no food at all to last me enough until I get paid, or I'd have had to rely on my family giving me hand-outs and I'd have been even mire embarrassed about that.'

A report seen by councillors listed 12 root causes of food poverty. Three of these discussed in-depth at the meeting were delays in benefits/benefits sanctions, low income, and absence of free schools meals during school holidays.

And councillors expressed concern over the implementation of Universal Credit in Norwich, pointing to issues experienced in Great Yarmouth around rent arrears and delays in payment.

They will now submit feedback to officers, before the next meeting on March 23, where the same committee will look to commit to solutions.

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