Number of food bank parcels handed out rockets, says charity

25 Apr 19

A record 1.6 million food bank parcels were given out in the UK last year, a charity has found.

This figure represents a 73% rise in food parcels given out over the last five years, according to analysis by food bank charity Trussell Trust.

Between April 2018 and March 2019 alone there was a 19% rise in parcels given out, jumping from 1,332,951 in 2017-18 to 1,583,668 in 2018-19. Half a million of the supplies given out went to children, the trust said.  

Delays and changes to benefit payments and poverty were amongst the key drivers in the boom in food bank usage and the charity called for an end to the five week wait on universal credit.

The research showed that 33.1% of users sought support due to low incomes, while 20.3% of recipients were turning to food banks due to delays to benefits being paid. Changes to benefit payment was the reason for 17.3% of recipients relying on food banks.

Trussell Trust chief executive Emma Revie said: “Our benefits system is supposed to protect us all from being swept into poverty. Universal credit should be part of the solution but currently the five week wait is leaving many without enough money to cover the basics. As a priority we are urging the government to end the wait for universal credit to ease the pressure on thousands of households.

“Ultimately, it is unacceptable that anyone should have to use a food bank in the first place. No charity can replace the dignity of having financial security.”

Campbell Robb, chief executive of the poverty charity Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “It is just wrong that in our society a growing number of people, including children, are going hungry because of our consistent failure to get to grips with poverty. 

“When the use of food banks reaches a record high we are beyond the language of warning signs and wake up calls. Unless we take bold action to solve poverty we risk undermining what we stand for as a country.”

A Department of Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “It is not true to say that people need to wait five weeks for their first payment. Universal credit is available to claimants on day one.     

“It also cannot be claimed that universal credit is driving the overall use of foodbanks or that benefit changes and delays are driving growth.

“The best route out of poverty is to help people into sustainable employment which, with record employment, we are doing.”

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