National Institute of Economic and Social Research, in association with Heriot-Watt University
The COVID-19 crisis is continuing to have devastating consequences for the UK population, particularly the poorest segments of society. Based on quarterly macroeconomic scenarios of economic growth, employment and wages from the NIESR’s NiGEM model, we provide quarterly projections of persons in the UK facing severe food poverty. From this, we obtain projections of demand for food parcels facing the Trussell Trust food banks. The sources of demand are segregated by those who are unemployed, employed with low income, and the self-employed. Likely demand reflects 22 per cent growth in 2020Q1 over the previous year, rising to 85 per cent and 105 per cent higher demand in 2020Q2 and 2020Q3, respectively. Projected demand in 2020Q4 is about 2.5 times that in 2019Q4. There was 15 percent higher food bank demand in 2020Q1 relative to the counterfactual situation without COVID, with demand rising to 115 per cent above the non-COVID case by 2020Q4. The higher demand in 2020Q1 is due to income losses for employed workers and self-employed, with subsequent large rises in demand from self-employed workers in small businesses. Demand from the unemployed gain prominence in 2020Q3 and 2020Q4.