Largest ever poll into poverty shows nine in 10 Brits think hunger is a problem in the UK, says the Trussell Trust

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YouGov survey, commissioned by the Trussell Trust, of 12,000 people across the UK finds:

  • 90% of the UK public believes everyone should be able to afford to buy enough food
  • Yet 87% consider hunger to be a problem in the UK
  • 15% have had direct experience of living in poverty
  • 85% agree that someone could be in work but still in poverty in the UK
  • 66% believe poverty has got worse in the last five years, 75% say gap between rich and poor is worse and 70% say the ability to afford the cost of essentials has worsened
  • 51% of Brits think food banks are an embarrassment to this country and 70% agree they should not exist in modern society
  • The majority of those survey (55%) agree the government is most responsible for addressing hunger in the UK
  • 61% agree that most people living in poverty in the UK today are in this situation because of government policies or actions

Nine out of 10 people in the UK believe everyone should be able to afford to buy enough food, yet 59% of the British public believes hunger could affect someone they know, a nationally representative survey of more than 12,000 people shows.*

The findings from the Trussell Trust highlight how affected the UK population is by poverty, with almost half (47%) of Brits saying poverty is one of the most important issues facing the country right now.

The survey also revealed how deeply the UK public holds the values of compassion and justice, and the extent to which they act on them. Half of the public has taken action to address hunger and its causes in the last 12 months, with more than a third donating food to a food bank.

The top reasons given for taking action were ‘it’s not right that anyone should go hungry’ and ‘everybody should be treated fairly’, with 85% agreeing ensuring everyone has enough money for basic needs should be a high priority for society.

This individual action is underpinned by a belief that hunger in the UK can be ended. 73% believe that hunger in the UK can be ended, and 55% said the government is most responsible for addressing the issue.

Last year food banks in the Trussell Trust network provided 1.6m emergency food parcels to people in crisis. Data from the Trussell Trust’s food bank network shows the main reasons for people needing emergency food in the past year were benefit payments consistently not covering the cost of living, and delays or changes to benefits being paid. Recent research found the five week wait for a first Universal Credit payment in particular is causing unnecessary hardship at food banks.

The charity is therefore urging the government to deliver the change the UK public wants to see by ensuring the benefits system is able to anchor people from poverty. It says the first priority should be ending the five week wait for Universal Credit. It also urges that benefit levels be restored to ensure they reflect the true cost of living and money is put into local welfare support, so people have somewhere to turn in a financial crisis.

Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, explains:

“This is a clear call to action from people across the UK. Individuals, driven by compassion and justice, are doing what they can to help people facing hunger, but they want to see things change. It’s now time for our government to do its part, and ensure these strongly-held values are lived out in policies that anchor people from poverty.

“It’s in our power as a country to end the need for food banks. To reach that future, we need to make sure everyone has enough money for the essentials. Ensuring our benefits system can anchor people from the rising tide of poverty would make the biggest difference.”



Contact The Trussell Trust Press Office at 020 3137 3699 or [email protected]

Notes to Editor

*The findings come from a nationally representative YouGov survey of 12,103 adults in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The data shows 3% of UK adults have been directly referred to a food bank, and 3% live in a household which has received food from a food bank.

About the Trussell Trust:

  • We’re here to end the need for food banks in UK.
  • We support a UK-wide network of more than 1,200 food bank centres and together we provide emergency food and support to people locked in poverty, and campaign for change to end the need for food banks in the UK.
  • Our most recent figures for the number of emergency food supplies provided by our network:

You can read more about our work at