POLITICS COLUMN: ‘Feeding family should not be a worry’

by Victoria Charleston, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary spokesperson for Salisbury

FOR many families with young children, one of the hardest parts of the day is meal times. There are the exertions of independence with cutlery; the amount of food that ends up on the floor, and the UN-style negotiations over pudding.

All this is made harder and more stressful at the moment due to rising food prices.

Food prices have become the main indicator of spiralling inflation, and this is having a devastating impact on households across Salisbury and South Wiltshire who are battling to keep the weekly shops at a manageable level.

A poll commissioned by the Liberal Democrats has revealed parents with children under the age of 18 have been hardest hit by rising food prices, with a staggering one in six parents saying they have gone hungry over the past year in order to feed their children.

The cost of the weekly shop has soared over the last 12 months, now costing families an extra £600 a year. The price of essential foods that we all use every day has gone through the roof. Cheese is up by 50%; milk by 40%; and eggs by 30%.

People are really struggling just to afford the basics.

This is a damning indictment of this Conservative Government’s record on the cost of living crisis. The Chancellor seems to be doing little to help, while food prices spiral out of control, forcing parents to make heartbreaking decisions.

The Liberal Democrats are looking at tackling this issue with a five-point plan:

Firstly, we would invest an extra billion pounds in British farms and support our farmers to boost the UK’s environmentally-friendly and sustainable food supply, bringing down food prices in the long-term.

Secondly, Liberal Democrats would cut energy bills for farms and businesses. Last month, the Government cut energy support for businesses by 85%, forcing farmers and shops to raise their prices. We’d put the support back up, to cut costs for producers and retailers.

Liberal Democrats would let our farmers and fishers recruit the staff they need. The Government’s ridiculous visa rules have left our farmers and fishers producing less food because they can’t recruit enough workers. Tonnes of fruit and veg went to waste last year as a result.

In addition, we have led the way in calling for an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority into potential profiteering by supermarkets and food multinationals.

And finally, the Liberal Democrats are looking to support families by extending Free School Meal eligibility to every child living in poverty, and increasing the daily rates of funding that schools receive for providing free meals.

The baby throwing half a plate of pasta on the floor should not be a cause of financial worry; it is unacceptable and needs to change.

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