A homeless man sleeps on a park bench in London. (Reuters photo)
food bank charities have sharply criticized the poverty “scandal” in Britain
after disturbing new statistics revealed that hundreds of Britons died from hunger and malnutrition last year.
Data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) indicate that 391 people died from hunger or malnutrition in 2015, a 27 percent increase compared with nine years earlier.
The ONS figures show there were 59 deaths “where the underlying cause was malnutrition” in 2006, a figure which grew to 79 in 2015.
Hospitals treated 746 patients for malnutrition last year, an average of two per day, according to UK government figures.
British Health Minister Nicola Blackwood confirmed the figure in a written statement in Parliament.
The Trussel Trust – a charity based in Salisbury, UK, that co-ordinates the only nationwide network of food banks in the country – condemned the findings.
“It’s a scandal that people living in the sixth largest economy in the world are going hungry, which is why we’re working to engage the public, other charities and politicians from all parties to find solutions to the underlying causes of food poverty,” Trussel Trust chairman Chris Mould said.
“Some people have been missing meals for days at a time; others have been unable to afford certain food groups or have sacrificed quality for long periods of time to keep costs down,” Mould said. “This, no doubt, has a negative effect on their health – and for people at the extreme end of the scale it will lead to malnutrition.”
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said the figures represent a “national scandal” for a developed nation.
“Many people think of malnutrition as a problem that only affects the Third World. But the reality shown by these figures is that we have a problem at home too,” Farron said.
“It’s 2016 and we live in one of the richest nations in the world, so frankly it is a national scandal that anyone is being admitted to hospital from malnutrition,” he added.
“The Government is creating Breadline Britain with insecure work, the lack of affordable housing and not enough well-paid jobs,” he said.