Food bank charity says last six months have been its 'busiest ever'

13 November 2019, 00:09

The Trussell Trust has released the statistics
The Trussell Trust has released the statistics. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

A leading UK food bank charity has said the last six months have been its busiest period since it opened, with more than 820, 000 emergency parcels given out.

The Trussell Trust has said that more people than ever are being forced to use food banks after it had its busiest six months ever this year.

The food bank charity also said that more than one third of all of its emergency parcels go to children.

During the six months, 823,145 three-day emergency food parcels were given to people in crisis in the UK, with more than a third of these (301,653) going to children.

Currently, the charity runs roughly two thirds of all food banks in the UK.

The charity said this is a 23 per cent increase on the same period in 2018, the sharpest rate of increase the charity has seen for the past five years.

It also confirmed that the main reasons for people needing emergency food is the five week wait for a first Universal Credit payment.

The charity said the main reasons are low benefit income (36 per cent), and delays (18 per cent) or changes (16 per cent) to benefits being paid.

It added that although Universal Credit is not the only benefit payment people at food banks experience problems with, 65 per cent of food bank referrals made in the six month period that resulted from a delay in benefits being paid in the UK were linked to Universal Credit.

Trussell Trust chief executive Emma Revie said: "Our benefits system is supposed to protect us all from being swept into poverty, but currently thousands of women, men and children are not receiving sufficient protection from destitution.

"This is not right. But we know this situation can be fixed - our benefits system could be the key to unlocking people from poverty.

She continued: "This General Election, all political parties must pledge to protect people from hunger by ensuring everyone has enough money for the basics.

"We want our next government to start working towards a future where no one needs a food bank by ending the five week wait for Universal Credit; ensuring benefit payments cover the cost of living; and investing in local emergency support for people in crisis.

"Together, these three changes will put money back into the pockets of people who most need our support. It's in our power as a country to end the need for food banks. This can change."

Shadow Work and Pensions secretary Margaret Greenwood has said the government should be "ashamed" at the rise in food bank use
Shadow Work and Pensions secretary Margaret Greenwood has said the government should be "ashamed" at the rise in food bank use. Picture: PA

A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spokesman said: "We spend over £95 billion a year on welfare, and have simplified the benefits system through Universal Credit.

"Free school meals are provided for 1.3 million disadvantaged children, and over £26 million has also been invested in a breakfast club programme."

Margaret Greenwood, Labour's shadow work and pensions secretary, said: "It should be a source of shame for this Government that food bank use has risen so sharply yet again.

"These figures show clearly how harsh, punitive Conservative policies like the five-week wait in Universal Credit are pushing people to the point of destitution."