Liverpool MP Ian Byrne is campaigning to make access to food a statutory right in the face of millions being plunged into poverty.

Energy bills are rising, food costs have already increased and a National Insurance hike is scheduled for April.

Ian Byrne pushes right to food
Ian Byrne MP is arguing for a right to food in the face of a national living crisis.
Image: Wikimedia commons

But on Monday, the Government voted to increase benefits and pensions by 3.1 per cent – currently below the 4.8 per cent inflation rate.

Campaigners and opposition MPs claim this creates a real term cut for millions, especially as inflation is forecast to soar over 6 per cent.

Labour MPs were whipped to abstain on the vote, but Ian Byrne was one of a handful who rebelled to vote against it.

He said: “The cuts are going to be devastating on top of everything else that we are facing as a community and as a society.

“It defies belief that the Government hasn’t listened.”

Humanitarian crisis

The MP is now pushing his campaign, Hunger is a Political Choice, to make access to food a statutory right in the face of what he fears is a “humanitarian crisis”.

The campaign was established in November 2020 and has gained support from cross-party MPs, Mayors, trade unions and rival football fans, Liverpool FC and Everton FC.

Mr Byrne is now saying that a concoction of rising costs could mean even more will be forced to ‘freeze or starve’.

A legal access to food could mitigate against spiralling poverty, child hunger and food insecurity across the UK.

Food bank use

Mr Byrne’s campaign comes as food bank demand is accelerating at an alarming rate with referrals already at an ‘all-time record’

Mr Byrne said food banks should be a temporary measure to keep people afloat, but that they’re only a “sticking plaster” to the problem.

“It can’t carry on”, he added.

Food banks are rising
Food bank use across the UK are rising / Unsplash

A broken system

The MP is now calling for systemic change to address this reality.

“Hunger is a political choice, and a choice was made on Monday which will drive people further and further into poverty.

“I’ve made my position clear since I became an MP in 2019 that this system is broken.

“We’re letting down millions and millions of people and that’s why I’ve campaigned so ferociously with many other people across the country for the right to food”, he added.

The MP said he will continue to fight for his constituents and people across the country, but that a national conversation is needed around Universal Basic Income to protect people even further.

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