One in three Britons struggling to feed themselves

A Which? survey out today reveals that rising grocery bills are causing real hardship

The rise in the price of food is an extra source of stress for households who are already struggling to make ends meet, new research has revealed.

A survey by the consumer group Which? shows that as incomes stagnate, eight in 10 people in Britain are concerned that food is too expensive, and more than half worry about how they will pay for their groceries in the future if prices continue to climb.

The findings come at a time when the cost of food has grown over and above general inflation by 12.6 percentage points over the last six years, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Since last year, the price of food and alcoholic drinks rose by 3.9 per cent on average. However, in the same period, incomes rose by only 2.1 per cent, with three-quarters of consumers saying their income has stayed the same or decreased in the last year. The result of this is that three in 10 people now struggle to feed themselves or their family.

Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?, said: "While people seem to have accepted their grocery bill going up, stagnating incomes and rocketing food prices are causing stress and worry, and leaving people wondering how they are going to cope.

"Supermarkets need to make it much easier for consumers to spot the best deal by ensuring pricing is simple, and making special offers genuinely good value for money. Politicians need to put consumers at the heart of their economic policies to tackle the rising cost of living and to support growth and prosperity."

In the organisation's separate monthly consumer tracking survey, one million more households admitted that they are feeling the squeeze compared to a year ago, leaving 9.5 million people struggling with the cost of living.

Chris Mould, executive chair of the Trussell Trust, a charity that provides support and sustenance for those in crisis, said that he has seen a 200 per cent rise in the number of people who needed food banks in the first quarter of this financial year compared to last year.

"The fact that one in three consumers say they struggle to feed themselves is seriously worrying. Food insecurity on this scale across the UK warrants urgent political attention. Until progress is made, the Trussell Trust food banks expect to provide an essential helping hand in times of crisis for an increasing number of people," he said.

This year food replaced essentials such as household bills and car costs, as well as luxuries including holidays, as the top item that people spend their savings on.

The survey released today shows that the average amount spent on the weekly food shop for a household is £60, with couples and those with children shelling out around £80.

Some 86 per cent of people who say they are spending a larger proportion of their disposable income on food report that they are not buying more food, with three in 10 saying that they are in fact buying less. Two-thirds say their overall weekly household bill has increased compared to 12 months ago, with rising food prices mostly being blamed.

Shoppers claim they are feeling the hit mostly in staples such as meat, fresh vegetables and bread.

Katherine Trebeck, policy and advocacy manager for Oxfam's UK programme, described the rise in food prices as "part of a perfect storm of high unemployment, falling real incomes and cuts to public services". She stressed that the Government "urgently needs to improve the social security system so people struggling to afford the basics get the support they need to help them through these testing times".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk