North East 'has highest levels of food poverty in United Kingdom', report finds

Tom Barton went to speak to people at a social supermarket receiving its biggest-ever food donation as the report's findings were announced

People in the North East are more likely to fall into food poverty than those living in other areas of the United Kingdom, a study has found.

The report from the Consumer Data Research Centre found that 910,000 people in the North East live in a food poverty hotspot.

More than half of those, 485,000 people, live in one of the areas identified as most vulnerable to increases in the cost of living which works out as one person for every five in the region.

“The highest levels of food insecurity risk in the whole of the UK are within the North East," explained Professor Michelle Morris from the University of Leeds. "And if we look at council areas like County Durham, two-thirds of the population are living in areas with the highest risk of food insecurity.

"Therefore we feel strongly that they should be prioritised. Those areas should be prioritised to get more support with food and access to nutritious, affordable food.”

The report came as North Shields social supermarket The Cedarwood Trust received its biggest donation ever. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

The findings came as a North Shields social supermarket, The Cedarwood Trust, received its biggest-ever food donation with recruitment firm Visuna dropping off more than 1,400 items.

Customers can buy food at discounted prices, but those who run the centre believe it will only last a week due to the increasing demand.

“What we're seeing is the largest rise in people who are working, people who are on the minimum wage or the living wage, have got two or three jobs and are living pay packet to pay packet," said Chief Executive Wayne Dobson.

"All it simply needs is for a tyre to be replaced or a boiler fix. There's nothing left for those people at that level of income to be able to absorb that.”

Paul Whinham has become reliant on the social supermarket. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Paul Whinham is someone who has become reliant on the supermarket after his mortgage rose from £200 to £800 a month, leaving him struggling to feed himself and his two children.

“It means two days a week we eat with what I get here and we don't have to worry about them two days," he said. "Then other days you just have to manage to get by. You just have to do the best you can.

"I think things like this are a fantastic help.”

In response to today's report, the Government told ITV Tyne Tees there are 200,00 fewer people in absolute poverty in the North East than in 2010, and are providing £108billion in cost of living support.

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