Dozens of celebrities and faith leaders, including Ed Sheeran, Jodie Whittaker and Liam Gallagher, have signed an open letter demanding politicians address the growing levels of poverty in the UK.
The letter was co-written by the Trussell Trust and Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and calls for political leaders to commit to an ‘Essentials Guarantee’ in their 2024 election manifestos, to ensure the basic rate of Universal Credit covers the cost of life’s essentials.
Other celebrity signatories include Stephen Fry, Dame Emma Thompson, Nish Kumar and Liam Payne, with faith leaders including Bishop Mike Royal and Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen.
Trussell Trust Chief Executive Emma Revie said:
“We live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and yet people here in the UK are going without the essentials we all need to get by.
“We know that the public is deeply concerned about poverty and hunger. Research shows people overwhelmingly believe food banks should not be needed in the UK, and the vast majority say the UK government has an essential role to play in keeping people out of poverty.
“In a General Election year, it’s vital that all political parties listen to the public and show they understand the impossible situations faced by people experiencing hunger in this country. Action needs to be taken.
“The wide range of people coming together to sign the open letter reflects the nationwide consensus on this issue, and we collectively urge political leaders to do the right thing and include an Essentials Guarantee in their manifestos later this year.”
You can join the campaign by signing our petition.
See the full letter below:
Dear Political Leaders,
One in seven people in the UK face hunger due to lack of money.
Last year Trussell Trust food banks provided nearly 3 million emergency food parcels, and this year the need has risen even further. Food banks are at breaking point.
When record numbers of people are being left with no option but to use a food bank, it’s time to reassess the systems we expect to support us all. The biggest driver of food bank need is the failure of our social security system to protect people from going without the essentials.
Currently there is a significant gap between people’s income and their living costs, with five out of six low-income households receiving Universal Credit, many of whom are in work, having to go without at least one essential right now, such as food and a warm home.
We live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and as we enter 2024, we cannot continue to stand by as people are being forced to go without the essentials needed to get by.
Food banks do all they can to support people in their communities, but charities alone can’t take the place of a social security system that should support any of us who have fallen on hard times and need help.
More and more people are finding it impossible to make ends meet because Universal Credit is falling short, and it’s pushing people to food banks.
It doesn’t have to be this way, and there are immediate steps that can be taken to stop people having to turn to food banks to cover the cost of their essentials.
We can’t always deal with what life throws at us on our own, which is when Universal Credit should protect people from going without the essentials at the very least.
That’s why, as we enter an election year, we’re calling on our political leaders from all parties to commit to an ‘Essentials Guarantee’ in Universal Credit to help tackle hardship and ensure everyone has a protected minimum amount of support to afford the essentials, such as food and household bills.
The public are deeply concerned about poverty and hunger. People overwhelmingly believe food banks should not be needed in the UK, and the vast majority say the UK government has an essential role to play in keeping people out of poverty.
This is our chance to create lasting change with a unifying effort that we can all be proud of as a nation.
Emma Revie – CEO, Trussell Trust
Paul Kissack – CEO, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
Ahmed Essam – CEO of Vodafone UK
Aisling Bea – Actor & comedian
Dame Arlene Phillips – Choreographer & television presenter
Bill Nighy – Actor
Brian Cox CBE – Actor
Carol Vorderman – Broadcaster
Charlotte Ritchie – Actor
Chris McCausland – Comedian
Coco Khan – Writer
Delia Smith CH CBE – Television presenter & Norwich City FC owner
Dame Denise Lewis – Athlete
Ed Sheeran MBE – Musician
Ellie Orton OBE – CEO of NHS Charities Together
Dame Emma Thompson – Actor & screenwriter
Glenn Tilbrook – Musician
Ivo Graham – Comedian
Jamelia – Musician
Jean-Christophe Novelli – Television chef
Jed Mercurio OBE – Television writer & producer
Jodie Whittaker – Actor
Jools Holland OBE – Musician / Broadcaster
Joy Crookes – Musician
Reverend Canon Kate Bottley
Katy Brand – Actor & comedian
Kellie Shirley – Actor
Levi Roots – Musician and television personality
Liam Gallagher – Musician
Liam Payne – Musician
Louis Theroux – Broadcaster
Mark Foster – Athlete
Mark Hoyle / LadBaby – Content creator
Bishop Mike Royal
Nick Mohammed – Actor
Nish Kumar – Comedian
Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen
Rina Sawayama – Musician
Roxanne Hoyle / LadBaby – Content creator
Sanjeev Kohli – Actor
Shaun Keaveny – Broadcaster
Stanley Tucci – Actor
Stephen Fry – Writer & broadcaster
Tom Kerridge – Television chef
Vinette Robinson – Actor