Poverty in the UK

The UK is the seventh richest country in the world, but many people today are struggling to put food on the table.

Oxfam believes that everyone should have enough income to feed themselves and their families with dignity, without relying on charity. That's why we're working with the Trussell Trust, activist and blogger Jack Monroe and Church Action on Poverty to highlight and tackle the causes of hunger in the UK.

If you'd like to give your opinion on the issue or get involved, please send an email to foodpoverty@oxfam.org.uk.

Rising cost of food

Comparing 2007 and 2012, the poorest tenth were spending 22% more on food, to buy 5.7% less.

Depending on foodbanks

20 million meals were distributed by the three largest foodbanks in 2013/14

The issue

The UK is the world's six largest economy, yet 1 in 5 of the UK population live below our official poverty line, meaning that they experience life as a daily struggle.

Over a third of the population now say that they are just one large heating bill or one broken washing machine away from hardship. Many are finding it difficult to heat their homes or buy essential clothing. Most shockingly, the number of people in the UK that are going hungry is growing.

Sir Michael Marmot, a health inequality expert at University College London says that this has a huge impact on health, social mobility and even life chances: "In the most deprived part of the Westminster, life expectancy for men is 17 years shorter than in the richest part of the borough. That's how big the health inequalities are in the UK," he says.

What we are doing

Oxfam believes everyone in the UK - the seventh richest country in the world - should have enough to eat. This is why we are working with the Trussell Trust, the largest foodbank network in the country, which has given out three days' emergency food to 913,138 people in the last year. We also work with FareShare, which collects surplus food from the food industry and distributes it to community groups, homeless shelters and local cafés.

But we also believe foodbanks aren't a solution. The use of foodbanks in the UK is growing, and this is unacceptable. We believe all political parties must clearly commit to urgent action if we are to begin to tackle the growing problem of food poverty in the UK. You can help - email your MP now.

Video: Food banks usage has risen sharply in the UK

Snapshot of Oxfam in the UK

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You may also be interested in:

Briefing paper

Walking the Breadline - the scandal of food poverty in 21st century Britain

UK Poverty blog

Read the Oxfam Campaigns blog for debate and analysis.

UK Poverty Programme

Oxfam's work in the UKFind out more about Oxfam's work in the UK 

Other issues we work on