Farron: Rise in UK deaths related to hunger a “national scandal”

The Huffington Post reports a rise in the number of deaths in which hunger is a factor in the UK. It’s up from 255 in 2005 to 375 in 2014. In 2013, that figure was even higher at 392.

Tim Farron was horrified to hear this, saying:

This shouldn’t be happening in 21st century Britain and the Government’s response is hopelessly complacent.

We seem to be creating ‘Breadline Britain’ for some of the most vulnerable people in society.

People are living under greater pressure and hearing thousands of people have died, in part, due to malnutrition is a national scandal.

We wonder if there is any correlation between these figures and the application of benefit sanctions.

People should not be dying of malnutrition in the fifth richest country in the world. Sadly, I wouldn’t expect the Conservative Government to tackle this any time soon.

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12 Comments

  • You’ve got a government intent on making the poor poorer and where ever possible homeless. I’ve never seen so many homeless people.

  • Rough sleeping on the rise Figures from the charity CRISIS

    The Autumn 2015 counts and estimates suggested there were 3,569 rough sleepers on any one night in England -this is over double the number from Autumn 2010, when the figure was 1,768.

    However, it should be noted that these figures are a snapshot taken on one night and fall well short of what local agencies report over the course of a year. In London alone, 6,508 people were reported sleeping rough during 2013/14.

    7,581 people slept rough at some point in London during 2014/15, an increase of 16 per cent on the previous year’s total of 6,508 but this is more than double the number six years ago.

    PS I came across several rough sleepers in Bournemouth during the Lib Dem Conference last September. When reported, the local Council said they would try to assist.

    Is it too much to correlate this rise to the Faustian pact of 2010….. and as The Voice says the application of benefit sanctions ?

  • paul barker 15th Apr '16 - 2:42pm

    I think we have to be very careful to look at the evidence, if there is any. Personally I would be very surprised if there is a strong connection between these deaths & either benefit cuts or rough sleeping. My guess would be that most will be down to a, extreme cases of bad parenting, often connected to mental health issues; b, people with mental health problems just not eating enough or c, the practise in some hospitals of not feeding terminally ill patients.
    We must beware of seeing simple causes for complex problems & of blaming “wicked Tories” for everything. There are enough real things to hammer The Tories about without sounding like Labour ot the SWP.

  • @Paul Barker – have you not paid any attention to the news over the last 6 years? Mark Wood for a start: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/feb/28/man-starved-to-death-after-benefits-cut

    I’m also sure you think the massive rise in both instances of food banks and the use of them is completely unconnected as well.

  • @ Paul Barker “There are enough real things to hammer The Tories about without sounding like Labour ot the SWP.”

    Frankly, Paul, I don’t think a guy I met who sleeps under a railway bridge in Bournemouth gives two figs about whether one sounds like Labour or the SWP. Nor do the 3,000 people in my county who received support from the Food Bank last year.

  • Passing through 15th Apr '16 - 10:37pm

    @Paul Barker “My guess would be that most will be down to a, extreme cases of bad parenting, often connected to mental health issues; b, people with mental health problems just not eating enough or c, the practise in some hospitals of not feeding terminally ill patients.”

    So the question then is why have these things increased so markedly since 2010? A doubling of deaths from hunger, a quadrupling of rough sleeping, a ten-fold increase in foodbanks, documented individual cases of cuts leading to deaths all set against a back-drop of benefit cuts and a Kafkaesque sanctions regime.

    Correlation doesn’t guarantee causation but with a clear logical link and the absence of any other explanation the connection looks very plausible.

  • In the last thirty years I have always seen homeless people on the streets of Brighton.
    Why are they there? Alcoholism.
    Has there been an increase in recent years? For sure.
    Is it because benefits and help are more difficult to access. Probably.

  • David wilkinson 16th Apr '16 - 7:45am

    2014 and 2013 the death toll comes to 767, two glorious years of the coalition

  • Sue Sutherland 16th Apr '16 - 1:59pm

    We have known for some time that many people cannot afford to eat and also heat their homes and this is because they do not have enough money to live on. This is why there has been a huge outcry about tax avoidance and we must keep hammering the message home.
    As for the causes of homelessness, they are far more complex than alcoholism. Relationship breakdown, mental health issues, redundancy, drugs, release from prison, leaving the armed forces can all cause people to become homeless and unless they are regarded as vulnerable they won’t be housed. It is definitely possible for people to go from having a job, a family and a home to living without all three in a matter of months. Unfortunately alcohol and drugs may be a way of alleviating misery or mental health problems.

  • paul barker 16th Apr '16 - 2:57pm

    A rise of deaths (connected to a particual cause ) of 50% over a decade certainly sounds like something to worry about but we need evidence for that worry to do any good. Has the way these figures are collected changed ? Have the definitions changed ? Has their been a program encouraging the professions involved to look for signs of hunger ? Is there any relevant research in this area ? I dont have answers to any of these questions & none of the comments so far suggest that anyone else has either.

  • Passing through 16th Apr '16 - 9:08pm

    @paul barker

    You are only asking questions are you?

    The Huff Po article indicates that the method of calculating the numbers is exactly is the same, all the Office of National Statistics do is count up the number of death certificates each year which mention malnutrition or hunger as a contributing cause.

    There is no reason to believe coroners, GPs, etc. are writing death certificates any differently now compared to 5 years ago, I mean why would they?

    Is there any research on this? Yes, loads, public health and actuarial science are well-established fields of research, if you are wondering if there has been any change in methodology why don’t you look it up and let us know?

    That would be far more compelling than positing shadowy conspiracies and major, yet strangely un-reported, methodological changes to account for the deaths rather than face up to the uncomfortable fact that if you strip hundreds of thousands of people of any income whatsoever and limit their charitable aid to 3-days’ worth of food a year, some of them are going to die.

    Your increasingly desperate attempts to find an alternative explanation, no matter how implausible, start to look disingenuous.

  • Sue
    I am talking about one specific group which is very visible. Of course there many causes of homelessness. Alcohol and drugs are never a way of alleviating misery or mental health problems. What is it that makes people of Britain so blind to the evils of alcohol? How many deaths does it require?

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