The Government has rejected a call from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Efra) Select Committee to create a Food Security Minister post.
In August, the committee warned in its Covid-19 and Food Supply report that there was a risk food insecurity could ‘fall between the cracks’ because responsibility for food was split across several Government departments, with no clear lead.
As a result, the MPs recommended a Minister for Food Security should be ‘empowered to collect robust data on food insecurity and draw together policy across departments on food supply, nutrition and welfare in order to deliver sustainable change’.
But the Government response to the committee’s report rejected the idea, pointing out Defra Minister Lord Gardiner has responsibility for food security as part of his wider portfolio, which covers rural affairs and biosecurity.
It also highlighted a key Government concession on the Agriculture Bill, which has been amended to require a food security audit at least once every three years – as opposed to once every five years, as previously planned.
“The report will cover a range of issues relevant to food security including global food availability; supply sources for food; the resilience of the supply chain for food; household expenditure on food; food safety and consumer confidence in food,” the Government response read.
“The report will use data drawn from a blend of national and international data sources. This will include analysis of UK Government published statistics including the Living Costs and Food Survey, Family Resources Survey and the Food Standards Agency’s Food and You survey, along with data from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.
“It will also take account of the data published through Defra’s Agriculture in the UK and Food Statistics Pocketbook publications.”