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North East tops food need index

The North East is the most at-risk region in England for access to affordable food, with 45% neighbourhoods in dire need of extra support, according to a report from the consumer magazine Which? and the University of Leeds.

This is due to relatively poor access to online shopping deliveries, a worse than average proximity to supermarkets and higher need for family food support such as free school meals and take up of healthy start vouchers, says Which?

The report ranks areas across the UK on the likelihood of people needing support to keep themselves fed. It looks at factors such as a lack of large supermarkets nearby and poor access to online shopping deliveries, plus circumstances such as low income or no car, which can make it difficult for people to get access to affordable food.

In other regions, Yorkshire & the Humber, the West Midlands and the North West all have at least a third of local areas in need of extra help. Constituencies in Birmingham and Liverpool feature heavily at the top of the report’s Priority Places for Food Index.

In the North East, Houghton and Sunderland South ranks highest among parliamentary constituencies on the Index, coming third behind places in Birmingham and Merseyside, with 86.2% of its neighbourhoods badly affected.

Other North East  constituencies in the top 20 are North West Durham (8th with 80.4% of impacted neighbourhoods), Blaydon (9th with 78.6%), Bishop Auckland (10th with 78.2% and Easington (19th with 70.7%).

Which? has launched an Affordable Food For All campaign to put pressure on supermarkets to take action.

The magazine said: ‘While Which? believes the government has an important role to play, supermarkets have the ability to provide targeted support in the areas that need them the most by making sure food is available and affordable – and that prices are easy to understand to make budgeting much easier.

‘That is why Which? is…launching its Affordable Food For All campaign calling on the supermarkets to step up and help all households keep food on the table. Our ten-point plan focuses on ways supermarkets can support people in three main areas: clear and transparent pricing, access to affordable choices and through more targeted promotions.’