FOOD FOUNDATION REPORT – COVID-19: What impacts are unemployment and the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme having on food insecurity in the UK?

This briefing report uses data from two YouGov surveys commissioned by the Food Foundation over 14-17 May 2020 and 6-8 July 2020 to examine how risk of food insecurity compares for adults who have been furloughed or newly without work since February 2020 compared to those who have remained in work. It finds that, after adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics, adults who were working in February 2020 but who reported being unemployed in May or July were about 2.5 times more likely to be experiencing food insecurity than those who remained in work (18.5% vs. 7.4%, respectively). An equivalent rise was not observed for adults who had been working in February but who were furloughed in May or June, suggesting this scheme has protected this group from the dramatic rise in food insecurity observed for those who became unemployed. However, compared to those who remained in employment, significantly higher rates of food insecurity were still observed among people who were furloughed (10.2% vs. 7.4%, respectively).

Based on worst-case projections from the Office for Budgetary Responsibility of a rise in unemployment to 13.2%, it is estimated that there will be 251,892 to 336,533 more working age adults made food insecure on account of transitions from furlough or employment to unemployment, respectively, in the coming six months. In light of this evidence, there is an urgent need to address the inadequacy of income protection for the newly unemployed.

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