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The prime minister has said it is “sad” that parents are watering down baby formula because they cannot afford to feed their children.

Sky News reported last year on measures parents have turned to after inflation spiked the cost of the powdered milk product.

This included watering down and even stealing products in order to make ends meet amid the cost of living crisis.

Asked about the situation parents have found themselves in, Rishi Sunak told the BBC: “My job is to make sure everyone has the financial security that they want for them and their families.

“And of course, I’m sad to hear that someone’s in that situation.”

He added: “Of course it’s sad if someone’s got a little one in their lives and they’re having to do that. That’s an incredibly sad thing.

“But my job is to make sure that we can ease those pressures, and actually, if you look at what was causing those pressures, it was inflation: inflation being at 11%, prices going up by that much every year, it was a real struggle for people.

“That’s why it was important that we prioritised bringing inflation down. It is now coming down. That is real, that will have an impact on people because it will start to ease some of those pressures.”

Inflation was still at 4% at the end of 2023, meaning prices were still rising above the Bank of England’s 2% target.

In order to reduce price growth, the Bank – which is independent of the government – has raised interest rates, putting up the cost of borrowing for consumers on loans and mortgages – also leading to increased rents.

At the time of Sky’s reporting in summer 2023, the price of the cheapest brand of baby formula had increased by 45% in the previous two years.

Other brands have risen between 17% and 31% in that time period.

Regulations state that all baby formulas must meet the same standards – so the cheapest brand will provide all the same necessary nutrition as the most expensive.

As well as watering down their products, Sky News also spoke to parents who had stolen formula, bought it on the black market or substituted it with condensed milk.

World Health Organisation technical officer Laurence Grummer-Strawn previously told Sky News that companies were “exploiting” people in a “very vulnerable situation” in order to “increase the profits of these companies, and they have huge profit margins”.

He called for the government to intervene “either on the price end or in ways to help those families directly”.

“Lowering the prices can help these families, but it needs to be in a sustainable way,” he added.

Source : Yahoo news Feb 6th 2024

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