The rise in the number of people using food banks featured on many front pages yesterday. But is the data behind the story "misleading the public" about the scale of the problem of hunger and malnutrition?
That is what some unnamed government officials think, according to this morning's Daily Mail. It points out that the number of food banks available to provide aid has also increased, so the reported rise doesn't necessarily represent an increase in the number of people unable to feed themselves.
As we've seen before, there are a number of possible explanations for expanding food bank use. However a government-commissioned report earlier this year did find "no evidence to support the idea that increased food aid provision is driving demand."
The Trussell Trust - the charity which operates the food banks in question and collects the data on their usage - also says in its release that while "there has been a 163 percent increase in foodbank use, there has only been a 45 percent increase in the number of new Trussell Trust foodbanks opening in the last year" (although this might not account for existing food banks increasing the scale of their operations).
According to the Mail, the government points to OECD research which shows that the proportion of people in the UK who reported not having enough money to buy food fell from 9.8% in 2007 to 8.1% in 2012. The average proportion of people unable to pay for food increased over the same period across both the OECD group of nations and the EU.
We need facts more than ever.
Right now, it’s difficult to know what or who to trust. Misinformation is spreading. Politics and the media are being pushed to the limit by advancements in technology and uncertainty about the future. We need facts more than ever.
This is where you come in. Your donation is vital for our small, independent team to keep going, at the time when it’s needed most. With your help, we can keep factchecking and demanding better from our politicians and public figures.We can give more people the tools to decide for themselves what to believe. We can intervene more effectively where false claims cause most harm.
Become a donor today and stand up for better public debate, on all sides, across the UK.