Frank established the APPG on Hunger and Food Poverty with Laura Sandys MP in October 2013, in order to proactively investigate the root causes behind hunger, food poverty and the huge increase in demand for food banks across Britain. The group renamed itself the APPG on Hunger in 2015.
The group is looking into a variety of complex issues such as delays to benefit payments, benefit sanctions, low earnings and disproportionately high utility costs.
Earlier in September 2013, Frank had written to the Prime Minister expressing his concern that food banks were becoming “an institutional part of our welfare state”, and called on him to launch a public inquiry to help build an effective antipoverty strategy for families who draw help from their local food bank.
Frank has spoken about this issue on ITV's Daybreak, in the Liverpool Echo, The Mirror, The Independent and Huffington Post UK.
DEFRA Food Aid Review
The first campaign of the APPG was to apply pressure on the Government to publish its review on food aid provision, as reported in The Guardian, in order to kick start a public debate on the issues of hunger and food poverty.
The Government eventually published the review in February 2014, after Frank tabled a Commons motion with the support of 72 MPs, and asked an oral question in the House of Commons, urging ministers to do so.
Frank also wrote to the Prime Minister in January 2014 urging him to reconsider the Government's decision to turn down £200 million of EU funding for food aid. You can read Frank's letter here.
The APPG has also been discussed in The Guardian, The Wirral Globe, The Herald and The Spectator.
Inquiry into hunger
The APPG announced in February 2014 that it was commissioning a Parliamentary Inquiry into hunger and food poverty in Britain. You can follow the work of the Inquiry by visiting www.feedingbritain.com
The Inquiry was chaired by the Bishop of Truro, Tim Thornton, and Frank, who Chairs the APPG. The Group’s officers - Baroness Jenkin, Sarah Newton MP, John Glen MP, and Emma Lewell-Buck MP - formed the core of the inquiry team.
Frank launched the Inquiry with the Bishop of Truro in April 2014 at Lambeth Palace, with the intention of posing a series of key questions to each of the political parties in the run-up to the general election about how they will respond to the rising demand for food aid in this country.
Frank submitted the Inquiry’s first formal evidence at the launch showing that longer term trends in Western economies might help to explain the growing problem of hunger.
Frank outlined in his evidence paper how conventional trends in households’ ability to cover the costs of living have been shattered over the past decade – with the proportion of household incomes needed to cover the combined costs of housing, fuel and food increasing since 2003. This trend is unprecedented in post-war Britain and follows fifty years of falling budgets required to cover the basics.
You can read Frank’s evidence paper by clicking here.
Presenting his findings at the launch, Frank said: “These fundamental changes in the relative prices in budgets of food, utilities and rent have blown sky-high the comfortable post-war assumption that our wages system and our benefit system guarantees a minimum which most of us would regard as tolerable.”
The terms of reference were agreed after a research summit on food poverty on Wednesday 9th April 2014, organised by Sarah Newton MP and the Parliamentary Office on Science and Technology. They were:
1. To understand the extent and geographical spread of hunger and food poverty in this country
2. To investigate the underlying causes of hunger and food poverty in this country
3. To identify the circumstances behind the rising number of people requiring emergency food assistance in this country
4. To understand the extent, nature and organisation of emergency food assistance schemes in this country
5. To discover the food choices and other forms of support available to clients when using emergency food assistance
6. To investigate the source of emergency food assistance providers’ supplies – how much is supplied by consumers and institutions?
7. To consider the effectiveness of emergency food assistance in meeting immediate and long-term needs, and the possibility of these schemes becoming permanent features of the welfare state
8. To examine the effectiveness and sustainability of our food model in providing universal access to healthy, affordable food in this country
9. To consider approaches to improving household food security in this country
10. To make recommendations
The inquiry published its final report, Feeding Britain, in December 2014. You can find further information by visiting www.feedingbritain.com.
A route map to ending hunger as we know it in the United Kingdom
The APPG's officers conducted a follow up exercise in September 2015 to chart the changing dynamics of hunger in this country, and to audit the recommendations made in Feeding Britain. You can read their findings, published in December 2015, here.
Britain's not-so-hidden hunger
The APPG published a short report in April 2016 on its early attempts to begin measuring the numbers of people at risk of being hungry, and the reasons why, as well as progress made on the proposals it set out in December 2015 to counter this vulnerability to hunger. You can read the report here.