Mayor John Biggs announced extra funding for food distribution in the borough in his 2022/23 budget. £370,000 will be used to tackle food poverty in Tower Hamlets by keeping its food distribution hub running for another year to support vulnerable residents struggling with the cost of living crisis.
The Tory Cost of Living Crisis is hitting the poorest residents in Tower Hamlets, with food prices already increased by around 8% and are predicted to continue rising. This coincides with the huge increase in energy bills this year, which mean that struggling families will be pushed to breaking point. The measures announced by the Chancellor in his Spring Statement do little to support residents on the lowest incomes.
In June 2020, as a response to the first lockdown, the council opened a food distribution hub which supports a wide range of external providers who are offering food direct to residents. The hub currently supports over 50 organisations to varying degrees and has provided more than 1,800 tonnes of food since opening, currently distributing 20 tonnes of food per week. Whilst medium term plans are to support residents with income maximisation and a cash-first approach, the current economic situation is seeing an increasing demand on food banks and the food hub.
Tower Hamlets Labour Councillors responded by proposing a £370,000 boost to keep the food hub open so that more families are helped in this time of need. This is on top of a £200,000 injection to support families with increases in utility bills.
Leader of the Tower Hamlets Labour Group, Mayor John Biggs said:
“The Cost of Living Crisis is hitting struggling families in Tower Hamlets, and some people are having to choose between eating or heating.
“We are doing all we can to tackle food poverty in the borough, and this funding will help continue the necessary work the food distribution hub is doing for people in Tower Hamlets.”
Councillor Mufeedah Bustin, the Labour Group’s Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion said:
“The government has let down our most vulnerable residents in this time of need. No person in modern-day Britain should be left to go hungry and have to choose between paying for food or paying for other vital bills. This proposal is vital in funding the food distribution work in Tower Hamlets and making a proper difference to the lives of many households.”