Report confirms food bank use at record high


Food bank use in the UK has reached record levels according to new figures published today by the Trussell Trust.

The charity provided more than 1,109,309 ‘million three day emergency supplies’ to people in crisis through its network of 424 food banks in the 2015/16, a rise of 2% on the previous year. Of the supplies issued 415,866 went to children.

Benefit issues the main cause

The Trussell Trust’s report shows that benefit changes and delays remain the biggest cause of foodbank use, accounting for 42% of all referrals (28% benefit delay and 14% changes). Sanctions also had an impact on those receiving Jobseekers Allowance (JSA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Personal Independence Payments (PIP).

The report highlights low income as a frequent reason for referrals, with the charity finding that the main issues causing working people to be referred are low wages, insecure work, high living costs and problems accessing work benefits. The report said there was a clear link between food bank use and areas of high deprivation.

More than 40,000 volunteers helped at the Trussell Trust’s food banks in the past year and the public donated over 10,500 tonnes of food. Most of the trust's food banks also offer legal and welfare advice, housing support and clothes. The trust said its figures do not reveal the full scale of food poverty in the UK because other groups also offer food aid.

A separate report by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hunger, published today, estimates that more than half of the emergency food aid supplied in the UK comes from independent food banks and other organisations not covered by the Trussell Trust’s figures – indicating that the true scale of hunger in the UK could be far greater.

‘Reducing UK hunger will require a collective effort’

David McAuley, Chief Executive of Trussell Trust said: “Today’s figures on national foodbank use prove that the numbers of people hitting a crisis where they cannot afford to buy food are still far too high. One million three day food supplies given out by our foodbanks every year is one million too many. This must not become the new normal. Reducing UK hunger will require a collective effort from the voluntary sector, Government, DWP, businesses and the public, and The Trussell Trust is keen to work with all these groups to find solutions that stop so many people needing foodbanks in future.”

 ‘Reasons for foodbank use are complex’

A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions said: "Reasons for food bank use are complex so it is misleading to link them to any one thing.

"This Government is determined to move to a higher-wage society, introducing the new National Living Wage that will benefit over one million workers directly this year, and we're also spending £80 billion on working-age benefits to ensure a strong safety net for those who need it most.

"The vast majority of benefits are processed on time and the number of sanctions has actually gone down."

‘It’s a national scandal’

Shadow Environment Secretary Kerry McCarthy said: “It is a national scandal that food bank usage is continuing to rise. Food banks have become a truly shameful symbol of a Tory Government that is failing to stand up for ordinary people.

"Emergency food aid should remain just that - food banks can never be allowed to become a permanent feature of British society.”

What help is available if you are struggling financially?

Our website has information on Hardship Payments you may find helpful.

You can also use the free Turn2us Benefits Calculator to check your benefits entitlements. Even if you have checked before, it is worth checking again, especially if there has been a change in your circumstances.

You can also check if you are eligible for a charitable grant or other support by using the Turn2us Grants Search.

If you are worried about any benefit changes and would like further advice, you can use the Turn2us Find an Adviser tool to locate face-to-face advice in your local area.

You can also visit the Trussell Trust’s website for more information.

Source: The Trussell Trust press release: Food bank use remains at record high