The UK contains some of the most advanced, developed and economically stable countries in the world.
England, for one, is the seventh richest countries in the world.
When we look at the UK in relation to the rest of the world, it is not hard to see that the infrastructure, institutions, technology and opportunities that we have are far superior to the vast majority of other nations.
Thus, it is hard to believe when in such a developed State that, since the coalition government came to power, the number of malnutrition cases diagnosed at English hospitals has drastically increased from 3,161 in 2008 to 5,449 this year; the number of people requiring emergency food aid has surged, with 1 in 3 of the 350,000 people requiring a food bank hand out this year being children; and that there has been a noticeable decline in the amount of calories consumed by British families, compounded by the fact that healthier food is being “substituted with unhealthier foods, especially in families with young children”.
Not only is this a shocking reality but, especially in relation to malnutrition amongst children, it has the potential to cause long-term health problems in our nation.
These are the facts of what is a swiftly developing, nation-wide public health crisis. Far from being the vote-chasing, media spun figures of opposition Parties, these figures come from senior doctors and researches of the Medical Research Council and two leading British universities, the British Medical Journal and national food bank charity Trussell Trust.
More worryingly, the Government are seemingly attempting to stop the full disclosure of an important report that reveals the undeniable facts of this growing problem, the reasons why it is happening, and important recommendations from highly respected professionals to help fight it.
Despite this report being commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) back in February, it’s public release has been consistently delayed by the Government. An open letter from leading academics and doctors last week criticized the delayed publication of the report and urged the Government to take account of both the effect of their policies on vulnerable people’s ability to afford food, and the potentially disastrous consequences of not taking preventative action on increasing levels of malnutrition.
Despite constant attempts at interaction with Defra and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), the leading medical and intellectual authorities who wish to see this report have been met with rebuttals, excuses and simple lack of communication by senior Government officials. Chris Mould, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, reported that, “We’ve had refusals, letters saying they do not want to talk to us. We find that deeply disappointing.”
Indeed, a Government spokesperson claims that the Coalition had “help[ed] families with the cost of living [by] increasing the tax-free personal allowance to £10,000, freezing council tax and freezing fuel duty.” However, the facts that have come already surfaced and those that, it appears, the government don’t want the public to see suggest a different reality to the one suggested.