Food bank users are turning down potatoes and other root vegetables because soaring fuel costs makes it too expensive to cook them, the boss of a leading UK supermarket chain has said.
As Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivered his spring statementIceland’s managing director Richard Walker said: “It’s incredibly concerning. We’re hearing of some food bank users declining potatoes and root veg because they can’t afford the energy to boil them.”
Mr Walker told Today on Radio 4 that the pressure of trying to keep prices down is “relentless” as he urged Mr Sunak to act on fuel prices.
Follow latest updates on the chancellor’s spring statement
Inflation on the rise
His comments come as inflation rose to a 30-year high of 6.2% in February, driven by increased energy bills and fuel costs, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The consumer prices index (CPI) was up from 5.5% in January, the ONS said on Wednesday.
Worse may be to come, as the ONS data did not fully reflect the impact of the war in Ukraine because the invasion began near the end of the month.
Certainly, the Bank of England is concerned, warning inflation could reach 8% next monthdriven by the 54% laughed in the energy cap that is set to come into force on 1 April and will affect 22 million households.
The cap is set to soar by almost £ 700 on average in response to rising wholesale prices, which have since been pushed even higher due to the invasion and sanctions imposed on Russia in retaliation for its move.
Going without heating
The Peabody housing association, which works to tackle poverty through low-cost housing in London, said: “The knock-on impact for people’s wellbeing if they choose not to use the gas for cooking healthy food is deeply worrying.
“People who we support are becoming increasingly worried at the rising cost of energy.
“Nearly half of our working residents earn below the London living wage, and the numbers of people telling us they have gone without heating is increasing each quarter.”
The Trussell Trust, which supports a nationwide network of food banks, estimates their facilities provided more than 5,100 emergency food parcels every day on average from April to September.
It was, the trust said, an 11% increase on the same period in 2019.