Wirral MP's shock at inadequate food delivery from central government

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16 Apr 2020

Wirral West MP Margaret Greenwood has expressed shock and concern at the delivery of food by central government intended as an emergency back-up for the 6,539 vulnerable Wirral residents on the National Shielding list in case the national supply system failed or took some time to set up.

Thousands of clinically vulnerable people in Wirral have received letters from the government advising them to shield for 12 weeks during the coronavirus outbreak. Last month, the government announced it would work with local councils and food distributors to deliver free food boxes containing essential items to those people at the highest risk from coronavirus.

The first food parcels were delivered earlier this month through the scheme, described by the government as the “biggest effort to deliver supplies to those in need since World War Two.” However, Wirral’s first delivery contained only the following for over 6,500 vulnerable people in the borough:

11          2kg bags of porridge oats
11          Tins of beans
11          Instant Scotch Broth
11          Individual Crunchies
11          Individual Kit Kats
28          Loaves of bread
10          5litre bottles of orange cordial

The fresh fruit and vegetables shown in the photograph were added by Liverpool Council as they had some spare fresh food available.

To be clear, that was a total of 11 tins of beans for over 6,500 people. Margaret Greenwood has joined with other Wirral MPs in writing to Robert Jenrick MP, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, calling on him to ensure that any future food deliveries are adequately stocked with appropriate food.

Margaret Greenwood said:

"I am astonished that the government thought that it was acceptable to send this tiny amount of food as support for over 6,500 vulnerable people in Wirral.

"To say that the food delivered is inadequate is an understatement. Instead of providing emergency food for over 6,500 people, the government sent a lorry with less than a dozen tins of beans, Kit Kats, Crunchies and a few other items. This wouldn't feed a family, let alone 6,539 vulnerable people.

"The government should be ashamed of this delivery and must take steps immediately to make amends.

"Fortunately, Wirral Council had already put a plan in place and mobilised its own response and supply system. As of 14 April the Council had delivered well over 3,000 weekly hampers and over 2,000 emergency food vouchers. I pay tribute to the hard work of everyone at Wirral Council and all of the volunteers involved in emergency food supply who have made this happen so quickly.

"The government must look closely at how it came to deliver such a paltry amount of food for the thousands of people who are vulnerable and in need of support. It must deliver nutritious food in sufficient volume to support those who need it at this very difficult time.

"Anyone who is struggling to get food can contact Wirral Council on 0151 666 5050 or visit www.wirral.gov.uk/health-and-social-care/coronavirus-updates/emergency-food

Wirral Council, working with community food providers, has set up its own system to ensure that vulnerable residents don’t go hungry during the Covid-19 outbreak. People in need of emergency food can contact the the Emergency Food Hub and have food delivered to them. The hub can be accessed online or by calling the Wirral Council Covid-19 helpline on 0151 666 5050.