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Response to calls for food rationing

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Weekly stories
Image of a supermarket aisle
Photo credit: Getty Images

The Daily Telegraph has published a comment piece from Professor Dr John Ashton claiming food rationing in the UK is ‘inevitable’ because of a need for further government intervention in the food supply chain. Additionally there is coverage in the Daily Express and MailOnline of comments from Professor Bryce Evans of Liverpool Hope University who also claims food rationing is likely.

As the Environment Secretary has said, supermarkets are best placed to judge what stock limits they should place on their particular product lines and many are already taking measures to do this.

However, as a government we’ve taken swift action to support retailers with their response to coronavirus and have introduced a raft a new measures including:

  • Relaxing competition laws so retailers can work together to keep shops open and stocked (by sharing data on stock levels, distribution depots and delivery vans and pooling staff where necessary).
  • Working with local authorities to extend delivery hours so shelves can be replenished more quickly.
  • Extending driver hours to help deliver more goods to stores across the UK and to allow supermarket delivery drivers to meet the increased demand for home deliveries.
  • Waiving the 5p plastic bag charge for online purchases to speed up deliveries.
  • And we will continue to do whatever it takes to ensure people have the food and supplies they need.
  • We’ve also relaxed planning rules so pubs and restaurants can operate food delivery services.

Contrary to the personal views of these individuals, the Government has made it very clear that we have a highly resilient food supply chain in this country. Our supermarkets are continuously monitoring their supply chains and taking all the necessary steps to ensure consumers have the food and supplies they need.

Stuart Rose, chairman on online supermarket Ocado, unequivocally stated on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme this morning that while supermarkets are facing unprecedented demand, consumers don’t need to worry about food not being available. He is the latest in a series of supermarket and retailer representatives to publicly state that we have a robust supply chain and that people need to be considerate in the way they shop. There is no shortage of food and manufacturing has geared up by 50% to meet an increase in demand.

A Government spokesperson said:

We will do whatever it takes to ensure people have the food and supplies they need. Retailers are continuing to monitor their supply chains and taking all the necessary steps to ensure consumers have the food and supplies they need.

“Supermarkets are already taking action to limit the supply of certain items to make sure shelves are stocked and it is crucial we all respect and adhere to these decisions.

Getting support with food supplies as a clinically extremely vulnerable person

Up to 1.5 million people in England have been identified by the NHS as being the most clinically vulnerable and therefore at higher risk of severe illness if they contract coronavirus. The NHS has written to many of these individuals asking them to self-isolate and giving them instructions of how to register on a Government website if they need support getting essential food supplies.

If you have received this letter and registered on the Government website and have been assessed as having no other means of accessing food, you will be eligible for a Government food parcel to be delivered to your home. The Government has begun delivering parcels and is working to deliver as many as possible as soon as possible. Your information will be also be passed to food retailers to prioritise you for home delivery slots. If you think you should have received a letter but haven’t had one, then you should contact your GP.

You may not fall into this category of being clinically vulnerable but you are vulnerable in other ways and in need of support getting essential food supplies. The Government is working to identify these individuals as soon as possible, and is working with food retailers and volunteer groups to help prioritise those individuals for home deliveries or support with getting food supplies.

Wherever possible you should continue to rely on friends, family and wider support to help you meet your needs.

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  1. Comment by Sue posted on

    You are classed as vulnerable on this website only if you have certain conditions - mostly cancer related or respiratory. If you are 99 they don’t consider you are vulnerable. I’ve tried to get help for my mother - nothing doing. Over 70’s told to stay indoors but a 99 yr old cannot get a food delivery

  2. Comment by Simon Broddle posted on

    Isn't it incumbent on the press to report accurately and equally important that the government pursue them when they don't?
    A paragraph on the DEFRA website isn't hardly sufficient compared to their front page propaganda.

  3. Comment by Suzi posted on

    Supermarkets are doing whatever they can to ensure supplies??

    There is a finite amount of 'stuff' in the world, so taking it from one area to satisfy our greedy shoppers will deprive it in another area, at least in the short term.

    I don't like it, but rationing is the only way to go when you have people clearing out shops of certain items, when if everyone shopped normally we wouldn't be in this situation.

  4. Comment by Fran Wildish posted on

    I need to register with as a vulnerable person - but can’t find anywhere on their website to do this.
    I am 79, disabled and live alone. So I depend on food delivery. The shops now only accepting orders from people who are registered with
    What can I do ?