School-holiday pressure likely to push food bank usage to ‘record levels’

16 Jul 19

Food bank usage is expected to rise again when schools break up this summer, a charity has said.

The Trussell Trust has said it fears UK food banks will experience their busiest ever summer in 2019.

A huge 87,496 food parcels went to children in the UK in summer 2018 – a 20% increase on the previous summer, and the charity expects this trend to continue.

The trust said that more than a third of all emergency food parcels distributed by food banks in the its network go to children, and that extra holiday-time financial pressure placed on families who are entitled to free school meals during term time would fuel the rise.

The total number of food parcels handed out to children and adults between 1 July and 31 August last year was 240,000. The areas that received the most food packages in 2018 were the North West (24,000), London (17,000) and East of England (16,000).

To combat UK hunger, the charity is calling for the government to end the five-week wait for universal credit payments.

Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said: “Food banks will do all they can to help families over the summer, with many running holiday clubs to support parents who find that their income simply won’t stretch to meet the extra pressure of missing free school meals or paying for additional childcare during the holidays.

“But no charity can replace the dignity of having enough money for the basics.”

Revie called on the government to ensure that benefits reflected the true cost of living and that work is secure and pays the real Living Wage.

Margaret Greenwood, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, said: “It is simply wrong that families should have to rely on food banks to feed their children at any time. The extra costs families face during school holidays can often push them into severe hardship.

“The government cannot simply abdicate responsibility for families being pushed into poverty and children going hungry in the summer.”

A government spokesperson said: “Our priority is to support people to improve their lives through work while helping low-income families with the cost of living.

“That’s why we have raised the personal allowance to take 1.74 million of the lowest paid out of income tax altogether, frozen fuel duty for the ninth consecutive year, increased the National Living Wage and confirmed that the benefit freeze will end next year.”

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