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 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.’