Food bank charities have condemned the “scandal” of poverty in the UK after disturbing new figures revealed that hundreds of people died from hunger last year.
Figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) indicate that 391 people died from malnutrition or hunger last year, a 27 percent increase compared with nine years earlier.
Hospitals saw 746 admissions for malnutrition in 2015, an average of two per day, according to official government figures.
Health minister Nicola Blackwood confirmed the number in a written answer in Parliament.
The ONS statistics indicate there were 59 deaths “where the underlying cause was malnutrition” in 2006, a figure which rose to 79 in 2015.
The Trussel Trust – which operates Britain’s biggest food bank network – condemned the findings.
“It’s a scandal that people living in the sixth largest economy in the world are going hungry, which is why we’re working to engage the public, other charities and politicians from all parties to find solutions to the underlying causes of food poverty,” Trussel Trust chairman Chris Mould said.
The charity runs more than 425 food banks across Britain and supports thousands of people.
“Some people have been missing meals for days at a time; others have been unable to afford certain food groups or have sacrificed quality for long periods of time to keep costs down.
“This, no doubt, has a negative effect on their health – and for people at the extreme end of the scale it will lead to malnutrition.”
Liberal Democrat Party leader Tim Farron said the figures represent a “national scandal” for a developed nation.
“Many people think of malnutrition as a problem that only affects the Third World. But the reality shown by these figures is that we have a problem at home too.
“It’s 2016 and we live in one of the richest nations in the world, so frankly it is a national scandal that anyone is being admitted to hospital from malnutrition.
“The Government are creating Breadline Britain with insecure work, the lack of affordable housing and not enough well-paid jobs,” he said.