From data gathered by The Trussell Trust, it was revealed that the top four reasons for referrals to a food bank during the time period April – September 2018 were low income, benefit delays, Benefit changes and debt. The Food bank charity pressing for emergency changes to be made to Universal Credit!
Photograph By The Trussell Trust
Research recently acquired by The Trussell Trust from a survey of people within in the Trussell Trust network being referred to food banks and volunteers across England, Scotland and wales has shown the extreme pressure added to food banks by Universal Credit. Food banks see a 52% increase in demand around 12 months after Universal Credit rollout, where as area thats have not yet seen the new system roll out at a 13% demand. Due to the government insisting that all new claimants have to wait for first payments at least five weeks, people who are moving onto one benefit to another are accounting to the majority of referrals and increasing the pressure on Food banks.
From the Trussell Trust research it has been highlighted that Universal Credit are unable to provide a fully-operating service to people claiming and need support. Due to poor management regarding first payments and repayments it is putting families with young children in severe financial situations.
Chief Executive of The Trussell Trust, Emma Revie said “Food banks have seen firsthand the impact on people when there is either no money coming in at all from a benefit payment, or that payment is reduced: people living with physical or mental health conditions skipping meals for days at a time, young families facing eviction, and single men with insecure work struggling to afford the bus fare to work.”
Low-income-benefits is another one of the biggest and fastest growing reasons for the drastic increase in referrals, according to the new national data the cost of essential living is far higher than the level of benefits received, this being the reasons behind 31% of referrals, suggesting an urgent need to reassess the fairness of current benefit levels. According to recent figures, 658,000 emergency food parcels were given out by Trussell trust between the period of April-September.
Photograph By The Trussell Trust
Rather than just focusing on achieving its principles, Universal Credit should be trying to still maintain vigorous safeguard for people when problems do arise. Many referrals facing benefits delays and changes are left in most cases to deal with the repercussions alone resulting on the dependancy from the Food banks.
“Christmas is supposed to be a time for joy but what we’re seeing is the festive period becoming increasingly stressful for more and more people across the country. Our benefits system is supposed protect us all from being swept into poverty – but what we’re seeing is people struggling to heat homes and put food on the table because they simply cannot afford the basics anymore and that just isn’t right.”
Elizabeth Rose, 21 from Oldham relied upon the service of her local food bank when her universal credits had been stopped, “If the food bank was not there I would have had to give my daughter up, we would have literally starved, the job centre were no concerned when they stopped my claim how I was going to feed my daughter.”
The Trussell Trust are now advocating that before a referral is made, responsibility should be taken by the government for the claimant providing support and scheduling to ensure the claimant is still able to provide for themselves and any dependants.
By 2019, the rollout of the largest welfare reform in a generation, Universal Credit, to all Jobcentres will be complete, and the next stage of Universal Credit will begin. 3 million people currently claiming other benefits and tax credits will have to move onto the system added more pressure and demand to food banks and other local resources, as well as an even greater financial need.
“That’s why we’re urging the Government to ensure benefits payments reflect the cost of living and reduce the waiting time for Universal Credit to help ensure we are all anchored from poverty.”