10 July 2020
Thank you for your letters of 23 June and 1 July to Lesley Griffiths MS, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs regarding food access for vulnerable people during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
Within days of the lockdown, Welsh Government worked with Local Authorities to develop the capacity to provide thousands of free food deliveries directly to the homes of people most at risk from Covid-19 who have been advised by the Chief Medical Officer to stay at home. This was an immense effort and we are grateful to all Local Authorities for their part in ensuring those most in need receive weekly deliveries of food and basic essentials. Food Innovation Wales was consulted on the nutritional value of the contents of the boxes which are intended to meet basic needs. Over 120,000 boxes have been delivered to shielding people to date.
Welsh Government also worked with supermarkets to prioritise on-line orders and home deliveries for shielding people and retailers working with us can now prioritise on-line orders and pro-actively contact shielded customers if they have joined a loyalty scheme and provided contact details. As of 26 June, over 194,000 priority delivery slots have been booked by shielding people.
These support mechanisms remain in place for the duration of the current shielding advice which extends to 16 August. Welsh Government is assessing options for future food support for shielding people, considering how it can be targeted to those most in need.
[contact etc details trimmed TBB]
We met with the Trussell Trust on the 23 June and heard about the significant increase, 89% over the same period 12 months prior, for those seeking access to food during the coronavirus pandemic. The Trusell Trust have commissioned Heriot Watt University to research the potential impact of the pandemic which will be completed mid to late July, and they have agreed to share key findings with the Welsh Government.
The majority of the food surveys being undertaken are at a UK-wide level and the sample sizeforWalesisverysmall. Wearegoingtomeasurewhetherpeopleareexperiencing food insecurity due to lack of money, inability to get to the shops, or not being able to get enough food delivered. These questions are being asked in the July IPSOS MORI survey so the results should be available to us in August.
For the time being the information we have refers to the latest food foundation survey (covering month 2 of lockdown) which shows that about 4.9 million adults in the UK are food insecure. About 15% are food insecure only because they are in self-isolation. The most prevalent reasons for food insecurity were a lack of food in the shops (about 28%) and lack of money (about 26%).
Perhaps more useful is the latest Food Standards Agency UK report here:
https://www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/media/document/covid-19-consumer-tracker- report.pdf where 16% of respondents reported skipping or reducing their meal sizes. 26% reported this was because they couldn’t get a delivery (but this isn’t available by shielding/non-shielding).
Welsh Government launched a £24 million fund to help the voluntary sector respond to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The Third Sector Resilience Fund is managed by the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) and can provide cash flow support to voluntary organisations in Wales during the Covid-19 crisis. The fund is designed to support those voluntary sector organisations that need financial support to survive the current crisis primarily because of an unprecedented fall in their fundraising and donation income: https://wcva.cymru/funding/social-investment-cymr u/third-sector-resilience-f und-for-wales/
Welsh Government has responded to the Covid-19 crisis to provide help to those facing significant additional hardship due to the Coronavirus. From 1 May to 31 July 2020 Welsh Government is investing an extra £11.2m into the Discretionary Assistance Fund (DAF) to help support the increasing demands on the fund, and to cover the costs of a relaxation to DAF rules concerning the number and frequency of Emergency Assistance Payments awards due to Covid-19.
Hannah Blythyn AS/MS
Y Dirprwy Weinidog Tai a Llywodraeth Leol Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government
Lesley Griffiths AS/MS
Gweinidog yr Amgylchedd, Ynni a Materion Gwledig Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs