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Cost of living support for vulnerable people needs to be ‘more targeted’ – Tesco chief

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The Tesco boss has said the government needs to make cost-of-living support “more targeted” at vulnerable people, as he warned of food poverty.

Ken Murphy, the supermarket giant’s CEO, said he had seen positive signs of shopping behavior in Tesco stores since energy bill support was distributed to UK households from October.

However, he suggested that improvements could still be made to financial aid.

Tesco CEO Ken Murphy (Ben Stevens/Parsons Media/PA)

Mr Murphy told the PA news agency: “It looks like the government’s action has helped, but I think it could be more focused on who it is helping, the vulnerable to help.

“There must be a plea for more income testing with support.

“There is a certain responsibility that must be shared by businesses, government and communities to help those most in need.”

Mr Murphy said he “cannot predict” whether food poverty will increase further, but Tesco remains committed to covering prices for all customers in an uncertain environment.

It comes as the retailer launched its first “upside-down supermarket,” where shoppers can buy food for charity, not for themselves, but for vulnerable people.

Members of the public interact with Tesco’s ‘Give Back Express’, FareShare and the Trussell Trust (Kieran Cleaves/PA)

Tesco is working with charity partners FareShare and the Trussell Trust on a Give Back Express pop-up shop on Poland Street in central London this weekend.

FareShare predicts it will redistribute more than 13,000 tons of food to people this winter as skyrocketing energy bills weigh on households.

The Trussell Trust also confirmed that 320,000 people used a food bank for the first time between April and September this year and warned that demand would continue to rise.

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Tesco said this winter would be “increasingly challenging” for many families as it appreciated customer and staff support through food donations.

Mr Murphy said the retailer has seen increasing pressure on its customers’ budgets over the past year, with a shift towards higher value product categories.

“We’ve seen many buyers lower prices, highlighting the importance of assortment pricing,” he added.

“We can’t control the future, but I expect demand for these lines to be still strong for the next 12 or 24 months.”

The Kotadia family in a ‘Give Back Express’ store (Kieran Cleaves/PA)

FareShare CEO Lindsay Boswell said: “The cost of living crisis is driving millions of people into food insecurity.

“At a time when food prices and utility bills are rising, the demand for food from FareShare has skyrocketed, with 75% of our 6 charities telling us they need access to more food.”

Emma Revie, Chief Executive of the Trussell Trust, said: “At a time when food banks are facing a tsunami of need due to the rising cost of living, we would like to thank Tesco for helping the Trussell Trust. access to essential goods as we work towards a future where everyone is forever free from hunger.”

Mr Murphy said: “This winter will be increasingly challenging for many people facing food insecurity, and food banks and frontline charities need our help more than ever.

“We have worked with FareShare and the Trussell Trust for 10 years, and during this time our generous customers have helped donate more than 100 million meals to communities across the UK, with Tesco surpassing the donation by 20%.

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“Whether it’s with Give Back Express, through our annual food drive at your local store, or through your online Clubcard points, even the smallest donation can really make a difference and make Christmas a little better this year.”

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