Charity Calls For Official Inquiry As Food Bank Use Triples In A Year
The Trussell Fund, the UK wide food bank charity has released their latest figures which show that one in five food parcel recipients – 65,177 people – were referred to its foodbanks as a result of changes to their benefits in the first half of this year, compared with 14,897 (14%) during the same period last year.
Delays in the payment of benefits resulted in 117,442 people (35%) being referred between April and the end of September, compared with 35,597 (33%) in the same period in 2012-13.
Between April and June 2500 people had received food form food banks in north Wales.
The trust said its 400 foodbanks were reporting increased referrals as a result of the bedroom tax, sanctioning (when claimants have their payments stopped for up to six months for infringements of benefit conditions) and confusion caused by the devolution of social fund crisis loans to local councils in April.
355,000 people received food parcels from the charities food banks between April and September – more than the entire number given out during the whole of last year.
The trust said that while there were now double the amount of foodbanks open this year, this did not account for the rise in demand.
But a spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said it had taken action to help families with the cost of living, and that there was
“no robust evidence that welfare reforms are linked to increased use of food banks”.
Chris Mould, executive chairman of the trust, said:
“The level of food poverty in the UK is not acceptable. It’s scandalous and it is causing deep distress to thousands of people. The time has come for an official and in-depth inquiry into the causes of food poverty and the consequent rise in the usage of foodbanks.”
The call for an inquiry was backed by international aid charity Oxfam, which said that the rise in food bank use revealed worrying gaps in Britain’s social safety net. Oxfam’s chief executive, Mark Goldring, said:
“This escalation in people using food banks shows we are now facing the shocking reality of destitution, hardship and hunger on a large scale in the UK.”
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