GMB union politics fighting food poverty

NHS trusts are reporting that around 2500 children in England have been through that trauma

15 July 2020

Food poverty is a Tory inadequacy

There are questions flying about how the country is going to afford paying the bills triggered by the onset of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Furlough costs, spending on support for the NHS and care services and more.
But people seem to forget, we are a rich country. We are not a poor, third world country. The government can access funds through borrowing and diverting spending to meet the imminent needs of our struggling industries and services, if they choose.
They can choose, they have the ability to make choices. So if the country is rich then why on earth do we have thousands of children under 16 receiving hospital treatment for malnutrition?
Only seven months into this year and already NHS trusts are reporting that around 2500 children in England have been through that trauma and humiliating experience.
It is nothing short of a political and moral scandal, that the government should collectively hang its head in shame at.

So what causes malnutrition?

Having an inadequate balanced diet can lead to malnutrition. Being malnourished can make you ill. If you are ill an adequate balanced diet is especially important to help you recover.
Not having enough money to pay essential bills makes it difficult to maintain a diet with sufficient nutrients and having the proper balance of decent food, protein and calories is a problem wherever poverty exists.
There are added dangers for people, young and old, whose immune systems can be impacted on through lack of food. People with diabetes are at increased risk from lack of proper food and particularly then from COVID-19.
Imagine not having enough food to keep your children fed and out of hospital, but we also hear from parents who are going hungry themselves to feed the kids. It is unacceptable for this to happen in this rich country. The distribution of the country’s wealth and resources is completely skewed towards the better off. Since 2015 figures made available to campaigners and Guardian journalists through Freedom of Information responses from 50 NHS trusts in England have shown that a shocking number of 11,500 children have been hospitalised with malnutrition. This is right across the country in places including London, Southampton, Newcastle and Cambridge. Almost 66% of trusts never responded which means it is very probably much higher. These results that show this is about class and the poverty that exists in this country and the irresponsible attitude of this Tory government. Foodbanks are well overstretched, struggling to supply needy families and individuals with a meal. The fact that we have foodbanks and that there has been a massive increase in them since 2015 is further proof of bad government and maladjusted, distribution of wealth. It is an indictment of a government who are proposing grants for people to visit their favourite restaurant to help boost the economy, while we know the scale of people not being able to afford a basic meal. More recently we witnessed the disgraceful news of hunger in our homes, which fortunately triggered a backlash, highlighting the scandal that the government had to be embarrassed and forced into a u-turn on free school meal vouchers.
There is a lot wrong with this country and much of it as a result of mismanagement by Boris Johnson and his bunch of incompetent ministers and lackeys and we need to shout it out, loudly and work to get them out.
Neil Smith
Political Officer
GMB North West & Irish Region

GMB North West & Irish Region