Supermarkets: Coronavirus

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 26th March 2020.

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Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Labour, Wallasey

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what recent discussions he has had with supermarkets on providing adequate home delivery shopping slots for people who are (a) self isolating or (b) have covid-19.

Photo of Victoria Prentis Victoria Prentis The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

We are working closely across Government, with representatives of the food supply chain and with local authorities and charities to ensure that the elderly, vulnerable groups, and people who need to stay at home will have continued access to food.

To help industry respond to this unprecedented demand we have introduced new measures to support food deliveries. We have issued guidance to local authorities to allow extended delivery hours to supermarkets so that shelves can be filled up more quickly, and we have implemented extensions to drivers’ hours. We are also temporarily relaxing certain elements of competition law to ensure retailers are able to collaborate effectively in the national interest, for example by sharing distribution depots and delivery vans. We welcome the actions that industry is taking, including hiring more staff, including prioritising delivery slots for those that need them most.

The Government is working to ensure that up to 1.5 million people in England identified by the NHS as being at higher risk of severe illness if they contract Coronavirus will have access to the food they need. A new Local Support System will make sure those individuals self-isolating at home and who are without a support network of friends and family will receive basic food and essential supplies. The Government is working with a partnership of the food industry, local government, local resilience forums and emergency partners, and voluntary groups, to ensure that essential items can start to be delivered as soon as possible to those who need it.

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