Charity calls for benefit changes to stop summer holiday food bank reliance

6 Aug 18

Families rely more on food banks over the summer holidays because children do not have access to free school meals, according to an anti-poverty charity. 

The Trussell Trust released figures last week showing from 2017 its network of more than 420 food banks provided 74,000 meals for children in July to August, compared to 70,500 between May and June.

Samantha Stapley, director of operations at The Trussell Trust, said: “Food banks cannot, and must not, be a long term solution to hunger at any time of year.

“We know particular groups of people are most likely to need a food bank, so let’s make sure no one is swept into destitution.

“Our benefits system can, and must, act as an anchor to protect people from being pulled into poverty.”

The charity called for the government to make changes to the amount families were allowed to earn before their Universal Credit payments reduced.

Universal Credit, which is currently being rolled out and combines six benefits into one, lowered the earnings threshold at which a household or individual qualified for benefits. 

The charity wants the government to increase the eligibility threshold for Universal Credit payments.

The Trussell Trust highlighted a report from the all-party parliamentary group on hunger last year, which estimated that the loss of free school meals during the holidays adds between £30 and £40 a week to parents’ outgoings for one child.

A government spokesperson said: “We are committed to supporting families to improve their lives, and employment remains the best route to achieve that.

“We recently announced a £2m fund for organisations to support disadvantaged families during the school holidays, which can include providing healthy meals.”

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