CLIMATE and social justice activists in Scotland have highlighted their opposition to food poverty by staging a series of stunts.
Members of This Is Rigged covered the Sainsbury’s branch in Glasgow’s Buchanan Street with red paint today as they demanded an end to “profiteering” by supermarkets.
The day before, the group entered Edinburgh Castle and smashed the glass case housing the Stone of Destiny, which had recently been returned to Scotland following the coronation of Charles Windsor.
Near the end of a year of high-profile interventions pressing for decisive action on climate change and a fair net-zero transition for workers, the group’s latest stunts are focused on the cost-of-greed crisis, which they argue is indivisible from the climate crisis.
The group warned that it would escalate actions in support of its demands that the Scottish government provide “food hubs” in every community and that supermarkets reverse their 24 per cent increase in baby food prices over the last two years.
A damning new report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) on the scale of destitution in the UK, has found that more than a million children experienced the most extreme form of poverty last year, with the figure almost trebling since 2017.
The report – the fourth in a series of Destitution in the UK studies published regularly in recent years, also revealed that almost 4 million people experienced destitution in 2022. Destitution is when people cannot afford to meet their most basic physical needs to stay warm, dry, clean and fed.
The damning figures shame us as a nation, with the rise in levels of destitution down to the cost of living crisis, low incomes as well as high levels of debt. The JRF report also highlighted how the social security system is failing to protect people from destitution, with almost three quarters (72%) of those destitute being in receipt of benefits.
The number of people experiencing destitution has increased by 61% since the last Destitution in the UK survey in 2019, an increase of almost two-and-a-half times (148%) compared to 2017. The report stated: “Single people of working age continue to be the worst-affected group by far, but for the first time in 2022 around a million children were living in households that experienced destitution. The shocking statistics revealed in this report reflect a social security system now so full of holes that it falls to charities – such as food banks – to try to prevent people from experiencing the worst of destitution, but the task is too great for them.
The study findings emphasise the need for urgent action to address the profoundly detrimental impact of living in destitution and prevent more people experiencing this most severe form of material hardship. Destitution impacts on health, mental health and people’s prospects. At a societal level, it puts strain on
already overstretched services. It is morally unacceptable that people have to rely on food banks and other voluntary efforts to meet their basic physical needs. We need a stronger state safety net providing crisis support to everyone experiencing destitution, regardless of where they live or who they are, with cash-first assistance and ready access to free high-quality advice. While this would make an immediate difference to those most in need, we need bolder action to address the drivers of destitution, starting with a commitment to ending destitution in the UK and moving on to ‘design out’ destitution from our social security and immigration systems.
Enough is Enough is a mass movement resisting the cost of living crisis. It was launched earlier this year, and has grown rapidly. Over 500,000 people signed up to the campaign by the end of August and the group has held packed out rallies in cities across the country. On October 1, Enough is Enough held protests and actions in solidarity with striking workers in 50 towns and cities.
Enough is Enough has a set of five demands – delivering a real pay rise for workers, slashing energy bills, ending food poverty, ensuring decent homes for all, and taxing the rich. Recent polling from Survation found the group’s demands are popular with the public. Survation found 84 per cent support capping energy bills, 76 per cent support pay rising with inflation, and 72 per cent support increasing taxes on the rich.