Tripling in foodbank usage sparks Trussell Trust to call for an inquiry. (Trussell Trust press release)

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Photo: The Guardian.

Over 350,000 people received three days’ emergency food from Trussell Trust foodbanks between April and September 2013, triple the numbers helped in the same period last year. The Trussell Trust says that UK hunger is getting worse and the charity is calling for an inquiry into the causes of UK food poverty and the consequent surge in foodbank usage.

Chris Mould, Executive Chairman of The Trussell Trust says: ‘We said in April that the increasing numbers of people turning to foodbanks should be a wake-up call to the nation, but there has been no policy response and the situation is getting worse. 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. As a nation we need to accept that something is wrong and that we need to act now to stop UK hunger getting worse.’

The Trussell Trust is writing to David Cameron asking him to look into the issues recently raised by the Government’s poverty tsar Frank Field MP.

Evidence from Trussell Trust foodbanks shows that rising living costs and stagnant wages are forcing more people to live on a financial knife edge where any change in circumstance can plunge them into poverty. Even marginal shifts in prices when people don’t have elasticity in their personal finances can have a major impact. Food prices have risen by 12.6% above inflation over the past six years and rising energy prices this winter are likely to see more people forced to choose between eating and heating. People at foodbanks have started giving back food items that need cooking because they can’t afford to turn on the electricity.

Many people on low-incomes are also being impacted by the implementation of April’s welfare reforms. Trussell Trust foodbanks are reporting increased referrals as a result of the spare room subsidy, sanctioning and confusion caused by the devolution of the Social Fund.

Chris Mould says: ‘Problems with welfare are not new, they have existed for years, but the reality is that when welfare provision breaks down, people go hungry. We’re talking about mums not eating for days because they’ve been sanctioned for seemingly illogical reasons, or people leaving hospital after a major operation to find that their benefits have been stopped or delayed. It’s not right that so many more people are now being referred to foodbanks due to problems with welfare, especially as much of this is preventable.

This is not about pointing fingers, it’s about finding solutions. That’s why we believe an enquiry is now essential’

Chris Johnes, Oxfam’s UK Poverty Programme Director, says:

“These figures lay bare the shocking scale of destitution, hardship and hunger in the UK. It is completely unacceptable that in the seventh wealthiest nation on the planet, the number of people turning to foodbanks has tripled.”

“Oxfam welcomes The Trussell Trust’s call for the Prime Minister to launch an urgent inquiry into why people are forced to turn to foodbanks.”

Last week, British Red Cross announced that it will provide volunteers for the first time to support Tesco’s nationwide food collection for Trussell Trust Foodbanks and FareShare because it is so concerned by levels of UK hunger.

The Trussell Trust’s Chris Mould says ‘Trussell Trust foodbanks across the UK provide a much needed and vital lifeline to people facing hunger but far fewer people should be needing them and the rise in numbers we are reporting today must sound an alarm.’

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9 Comments »

  1. Charities need to concentrate on the shameful state of food poverty in the UK. Lottery money and Red Nose Day fund raising should be aimed at helping the food poverty that we happily ignore at home. Better for a well known comedian to be seen crying, to pull our heart strings, in Somalia than the NE of England.

  2. In France we have a similar trust called the “Restos du coeur” and every year demand is increasing with the increase in unemployment and the increase in food prices. It shocks me.

  3. Reblogged this on multicolouredsmartypants and commented:
    Foodbank usage has risen 300% over the last year. This is a very worrying situation for one of the world’s richest countries. It is even more worrying when senior government figures tell barefaced lies as to the reasons people turn to foodbanks, and the way that foodbanks work. I have been utterly shocked by the statements of such senior politicians as Edwina Currie, Lord Freud and Michael Gove. They have blatantly twisted the facts. They must be held to account.

  4. People losing jobs and not au fait with the benefit system or having any savings (due to the cost of living compared to incomes they can achieve) are mercilessly punished by this govt and forced to food banks – even into evictions due to housing benefit access problems. And Labour will emulate this and keep up the cruelty as far as I can see. Damn them all to hell.

  5. I am a money advice worker and benefits advisor in Bradford, we are referring families all the time to the food banks the bedroom tax and the 25% towards council tax have had an impact as has debt increases. The working families are also being impacted and I am seeing more families that have maxed out credit cards just on food shopping. families unable to dry their childrens clothes for school as they have no money to put in the token meters to put the gas on . I think the government has to do something but I suppose our MPS spend more on their expenses than families have to live on in a year.
    I have done this job for 30 years and it is definitely getting worse.

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