Congress is concerned that with inflation standing at the highest it has been in 40 years and with food prices, alongside energy costs, at record levels, millions of people (including millions of children) are unable to meet their basic needs.
Congress calls on the General Council, the wider trade union movement, all political parties, religious leaders, academics, researchers, campaigners, and all the people of this country to demand that governments act now to declare a national food emergency and address the food crisis facing so many people.
Congress asserts that there is an urgent need to organise a national food emergency summit to determine how to resource and deliver a plan to ensure every citizen in the UK can access good quality, affordable, and nutritious food.
Congress last year welcomed the publication of the government-commissioned report into the national food system by Henry Dimbleby, which the prime minister promised would form the basis of a white paper providing a real opportunity to position Britain as a leader in food, health and the environment.
The government food strategy was finally published on 13 June 2022. Congress condemns the government strategy for not going far enough to address the links between food and health and for largely ignoring the recommendations made by its own lead advisor.
Congress asserts that this is not a strategy but rather a statement of intent based on a narrow-minded ideology of voluntarism and individual responsibility.
Congress is dismayed that the strategy fails to commit to recommendations including:
i. measures to enable the import of food with high animal welfare and environmental standards
ii. a 30 per cent reduction in meat and dairy consumption
iii. the introduction of a sugar and salt tax
iv. adequate public health measures
v. tackling rising food prices
vi. significant expansion of free school meals
vii. taking a stand on climate change.
Congress calls on the General Council to work with the BDA and others to press government to introduce legislation implementing the recommendations of the Dimbleby report.
Congress calls on the General Council to insist that any UK food strategy is subject to a worker-led just transition to ensure a future of good, unionised jobs including for the 175,000 workers in the meat and dairy industries.
Given that the extent of food insecurity is the result of an earnings and income crisis (not simply a cost-of-living crisis), Congress demands, in declaring a national food emergency, that the UK government and the devolved administrations deliver:
a. a rise in the national minimum wage to at least £15 an hour to guarantee workers a real living wage
b. an immediate and substantial increase to universal credit: restoring the £20 uplift, uprating benefits to keep pace with rising prices and bills, and removing the five-week wait
c. universal free school meals for every child throughout the year
d. a ban on zero-hour contracts to guarantee workers predictable incomes they can live on.
Mover: Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union
Seconder: British Dietetic Association