The 2021 elections are a vital opportunity

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By Rory Weal, Policy & Public Affairs Manager

‘The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry,’ so they say. Beyond the immediate heartache and suffering caused by the pandemic, it’s also been a year filled with missed family visits, cancelled holidays, and all manner of plans left in tatters.

In these circumstances, you might be forgiven for missing that several important elections were also postponed last year and will now be taking place on 6 May 2021.

These elections matter – their outcomes will help to determine how we build a better future as we look to recover from the pandemic. Crucially, they could help provide a turning point to build a future where we can end the need for food banks.

The stakes are high, and they impact so many of us in different ways. All in all, about 48 million people will be able to vote to elect almost 5,000 to positions of power across Great Britain on 6 May.

The bumper crop of elections taking place on this day include those for the Scottish Parliament and the Senedd in Wales, hugely important elections which will determine the next governments for the two nations for the next four years, with responsibilities covering the likes of health, housing, and education. These are joined by the delayed elections for local authorities across England, as well as for mayors in cities such as London and Greater Manchester.

These elections will have huge consequences for how we all live our lives, and for the services and financial support available for people on the lowest incomes. What’s more, they offer a vital opportunity to win support for measures which will end the need for food banks, and create a society where everyone can afford the essentials.

This matter has never been more urgent or pressing. Since the pandemic hit, more people than ever have been pushed into destitution, unable to afford the essentials that we all need to survive. This has led to unprecedented numbers of people needing emergency food. However, these problems are not new. The Covid-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on and accelerated many of the issues that communities were already facing. There has been a 71% increase in emergency food parcels provided by the Trussell Trust’s food bank network between 2015/16 and 2019/20. This isn’t right.

From their local community to their nation, each elected representative has the opportunity to use their power and influence to deliver the changes we need to work towards a hunger free future. That is why in these elections we’re calling on all candidates to commit to working to end the need for food banks if they are elected, and for newly elected governments, local authorities, and mayors to develop a plan to do so by:

  • Ensuring everyone can afford the basics.
  • Helping local services work together to ensure people get the right support at the right time.
  • Involving people with direct experience of poverty and local food banks.

It’s quick and easy to contact local candidates – will you ask them to pledge to working to end the need for food banks?

We stand at a crossroads at these elections – do we accept ever-rising levels of destitution and emergency food as an appropriate response to this need? Or do we take this opportunity to ensure all our elected representatives do everything in their power to create a hunger free future, where everyone can afford the essentials?

That is the choice our politicians will have to make over the coming months. But we can all play our part in campaigning for those elected to make this top of their in-tray from Day 1 of their new job. Ask them to make the pledge now.

And you can also make a difference by joining our campaign for a hunger free future. Together, we can make change happen.