Families 'resorting to stealing baby formula due to cost of living crisis’, government warned

NORTHWICH, ENGLAND - JULY 06: Baby formula sits on display in a Tesco supermarket on July 06, 2022 in Northwich, England. The British Retail Consortium recently said food manufacturers and supermarkets are having to pass on some of the cost of soaring raw materials to consumers, leading to the price of basic goods throughout the UK rising at the fastest pace since September 2008. Fresh food prices increased by 6% in the year to June 2022 coupled with an increase in inflation, and fuel and energy prices to create a cost of living crisis.  This is leading to millions of low-income households going without essentials items, falling behind on bills and taking on debt. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Baby formula sits on display in a Tesco supermarket alongside a warning that security guards are on patrol. (Getty)

Desperate families are being forced to steal baby formula because of rapidly rising prices, the government has been told.

Inflation in the UK has hit the highest levels recorded in decades, with prices rising by 9.1% in the year to May 2022.

Speaking in the House of Commons, SNP MP Alison Thewliss claimed families are now resorting to stealing baby formula so that they can feed their children.

Prices are rising at the fastest rate seen in decades (Yahoo News UK/Flourish)
Prices are rising at the fastest rate seen in decades. (Yahoo News UK/Flourish)

Thewliss said: “One of the most worrying increases in food prices is for infant formula, some of which is now so expensive it is security tagged and kept behind the till because families have resorted to stealing it.

“What is the government doing to make sure that infant formula is available to families who need it? Because at this price many cannot afford it at all.”

Watch: Protesters block motorway in stand against cost of fuel

Cabinet office minister Kit Malthouse say that the government were “monitoring prices very closely”, highlighting further government support for those on benefits.

He added: “We have put something like £37bn now into the system to assist families but we constantly keep these things under review and will act if needed.”

Packs of Lurpak at �7.25 on the shelves at Sainsbury's in Ashford as Boris Johnson has ordered ministers to hold regular press conferences on efforts to counter the rising cost of living. Picture date: Tuesday July 5, 2022.
Dairy prices have risen in recent weeks as the cost of living crisis takes hold. (PA)

In response to the cost-of-living crisis, the government is giving a £650 to struggling families in receipt of certain means-tested benefits.

The first payment of £326 is being given out on Thursday, with the second payment of £324 scheduled for the autumn.

Speaking after the debate in parliament, Thewliss criticised the government's response to her concerns.

She said: “The increasing cost of infant formula is a real issue for many families right now – it’s an essential that they simply cannot cut back on.

“The response from Kit Malthouse lacks urgency. The UK government must act now to ensure families who need infant formula can afford to access it.

“A good start would be increasing the money available to families, as Scotland has done through the Scottish child payment, and scrapping the two-child limit in universal credit, which now affects 359,000 households and 1.3 million children.”

Concerns have been raised that the government's cost of living support may not be sufficient after analysts predicted another steep rise in energy costs this winter.

According to Cornwall Insights, the energy price cap could soar to £3,200 next time it is reviewed, a significant increase compared to previous forecasts.