Newcastle Labour is committed to tackling food poverty and the health, wellbeing, and economic inequalities that exist within our city.
In a recent motion presented to the council, we exposed how these inequalities have grown after 10 years of austerity under a Conservative Government. We confirmed our support for a ‘Right to Food’ and agreed to lobby the government for the ‘right to food’ to be enshrined as a human right in parliamentary legislation.
Child poverty figures reduced under the last Labour Government, but under the Tories, they have increased. This has been exacerbated during the pandemic with an additional 23,000 families now receiving Universal Credit. Families and workers on furlough and many, many people struggling to get by on zero-hour contracts or pay that does not meet their basic needs. We will continue to campaign for an end to the 5-week wait for Universal Credit which we know impacts people’s ability to pay bills and buy food.
Newcastle Labour targets resources to support people in financial need, through supporting the Council’s welfare rights services. We know this makes a huge difference in people’s lives. Recently YHN reported that they have worked with residents to claim nearly 2 million pounds in unclaimed benefits. Putting money back into people’s pockets. Our Labour team works across the city supporting food banks, delivering food in this pandemic, and donating over £2000 to City LifeLine, which we set up to support those vulnerable in our city who were struggling during the lockdown.
Newcastle has an amazing community spirit. We have fantastic community projects such as West End & East End Food Banks as well as small community cafes all over the city that help support people in need of food. The Newcastle Food Partnership has brought organisations together to address the problem of food poverty across the city. We are enormously grateful to all those who keep these services going but we know we need to do more; we need to take more actions on the causes of food poverty.
That’s why we have our new Food Champion! Ouseburn Councillor Paula Holland, who is also the council’s cabinet member for Education and Skills. As the Food Champion Paula will lead on this work in partnership with local groups and organisations to campaign for the national right for food and will develop a ‘right to food’ strategy.
Cllr Paula Holland says, ‘No one in the UK should go hungry, not least children. The bottom line is, if you can’t afford food, then you’ll be struggling to pay utility bills and rent and won’t be able to look after yourself or your family. Without support, many people would go hungry, which is a national disgrace for a country as wealthy as ours. Food justice is about taking action on the causes of hunger such as affordability and availability of good nutritious food and that’s what Newcastle plan to do in partnership with food organisations in the city’