APPG on Ending the Need for Food Banks – 2022/23 Inquiry

Discover evidence-based recommendations for supporting people facing destitution, including cash-first approaches.

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Ending the Need for Food Banks conducted a landmark inquiry to look at how we tackle the growing need for food banks across the UK. The inquiry focused on exploring different local and community responses to supporting people facing destitution and financial crisis, including the role of food banks compared to other forms of support.

As record numbers of people are forced to turn to food banks, now is a critical time to assess the best ways to support people and challenge the normalisation of emergency food provision. Based on the evidence gathered, the APPG is calling for funding and guidance to make sure strong local support systems are in place so no one has to turn to a food bank. It is crucial that cash is readily available as part of the local crisis support offer for people facing hardship. This is the most effective and dignified form of support.


Cash or food? Exploring effective responses to destitution.

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How will this report change things?

The report presents targeted recommendations for UK, devolved, and local governments, setting out the changes needed to help ensure that people who are facing destitution and financial crisis are supported in the most effective and dignified way:

  1. A long-term strategy for local crisis support underpinned by the principles for ensuring support is effective and dignified.
  2. Cash-first approaches as the default response to financial crisis, whilst ensuring a range of suitable options are available to people depending on their individual needs.
  3. Improving data-sharing between all levels of government to develop a holistic picture of local financial hardship.
  4. Funding to develop and coordinate strong local support systems which mean no one has to turn to a food bank as a first port of call.
  5. Ensuring that local crisis support is accessible to all and no one is excluded.

The APPG and the Trussell Trust are advocating for government at all levels to implement these recommendations, based on the robust evidence that was gathered over the course of the inquiry.

Why is this important?

Against a backdrop of record levels of need for food banks during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the cost of living crisis, this is a critical time to assess effective ways to deliver support to people facing destitution, and challenge the growing normalisation of emergency food as a response.

Of course, the ultimate goal should be to prevent people from reaching financial crisis by tackling the drivers of destitution. However, as more and more people find themselves unable to afford the essentials, we must recognise the role of crisis responses and the need to get the right support to everyone who needs it. This is why this inquiry has focused on exploring different local and community responses to supporting people facing destitution and financial crisis.

Why cash first?

The APPG crucially recommends a ‘cash-first’ approach to providing support at a local level, meaning people in financial crisis are provided with money to buy their own essentials. There is evidence of this approach working effectively, like the successful cash-first pilot run by Leeds City Council. For crisis support to be dignified, it must reduce stigma, provide choice and flexibility so people have the agency to determine the best way to resolve their crisis for themselves and prioritise meeting the specific needs of the individual e.g. dietary needs and preferences. Cash is the most dignified and effective form of support.

Who was on the inquiry team?

The inquiry team was made up of a small group of members from the APPG:

  • Wendy Chamberlain MP, Liberal Democrat, Co-Chair of APPG and Convenor of inquiry
  • Catherine McKinnell MP, Labour
  • Marion Fellows MP, Scottish National Party
  • Paul Maynard MP, Conservative
  • Baroness D’Souza, Crossbench

What is an APPG?

An APPG is an All-Party Parliamentary Group, that is made up of parliamentarians (from the House of Commons, House of Lords or both) from across the political spectrum, who come together around a specific interest. 

The APPG on Ending the Need for Food Banks was established in 2020 to bring together parliamentarians to explore how to tackle the need for food banks, and the destitution – meaning people cannot afford the things they need to eat, stay warm and dry – which causes this. The Trussell Trust provides administrative support to the APPG on Ending the Need for Food Banks. 

What is an inquiry?

An inquiry is a process by which evidence is collected and analysed on a specific topic, to produce recommendations and guide government response. 

This inquiry – Cash or food? Exploring effective responses to destitution – has explored  the respective merits and challenges of providing cash, ‘in-kind’ support (for example, vouchers and goods), or emergency food, to support people facing destitution.