David Cameron urged to tackle UK's 'scandal of hunger'

Food Bank in Glasgow Image copyright PA
Image caption Growing numbers of food banks have opened across the UK

The "armies" of people going hungry in Britain should be tackled with the same political effort as the battle against terrorism, a senior MP has said.

Labour MP Frank Field is chairman of a Commons committee which has warned of children going for days without a meal.

Its Feeding Britain report, backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, proposes a tax on fizzy drinks to fund food projects during school holidays.

The government said it would look carefully at the recommendations.

The report, produced by MPs and peers in the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger, set out a blueprint for tackling the "scandal of hunger".

Mr Field, a former Labour cabinet minister, said the issue was being treated by the government "as a boil of no significance".

'Shocking situation'

He called for an equivalent to the government's Cobra committee - which is convened in response to emergencies such as terrorist attacks - to be established to tackle the problem of hunger.

"What is the point of being in government unless you are really going to do something about that?" he said.

"Each night we and the prime minister go to bed knowing that kids have gone to bed hungry."

As well as a tax on sugary drinks, the report calls for prompt payment of benefits, for budget advisers to work at food banks, and for ministers to stop supermarkets and their suppliers throwing food away.

Image caption Frank Field called for a cabinet committee to be established to deal with food poverty

While some progress has been made, the number of people relying on food parcels remains at a level unseen since World War Two, the group says.

In his foreword to the report, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, said it was "shocking" to read about the scale of food waste, and about evidence of unnecessary problems caused by delays in the benefits system.

Holiday meals

The Health Select Committee has recommended a 20p per litre tax on sugary drinks to help combat obesity.

The Feeding Britain report suggests that 4p of that levy could be used to help fund meals for children during school holidays, when some went "day after day without a substantial meal".

The government said it had a good record of tackling poverty, and would study the report's recommendations.

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