The Trussell Trust is the single largest distributer of emergency food parcels in the UK, providing around two-thirds of the food parcels handed out to people in crisis. Today they released their latest damning statistics, highlighting the scale of food poverty in the United Kingdom.
Between April 2016 and March 2017, The Trussell Trust distributed1,332,952emergency food parcels to people in crisis. That’s one million, three hundred and thirty two thousand, nine hundred and fifty two emergency parcels to people without food – half a million of which went to children.
Since 2010 the number of food bank parcels distributed by the Trussell Trust has risen from just over 40,000 to well over a million – an increase of 3159%.
The main reason for food bank referrals is ‘low income’ – making up almost a third of recipients. ‘Benefit delays’ is the second most common reason, followed by ‘benefit changes’ and ‘debt’. This shows a concerning trend, where both work and welfare are not providing enough for people to survive off. The rising cost of living is fuelling the debt, whilst really putting the squeeze on those who are already strapped for cash.
On top of this, the new Universal Credit system – with a built in waiting period and marred with additional delays and costs – has put additional pressure on those who already have the least. Foodbanks in areas that have had a full Universal Credit rollout have seen a 30% increasein food parcel distribution.
According to the Trussell Trust, Universal Credit, “is unable to provide a well-functioning service for some of the people in our society most in need of support.” Poor administration, the wait for payments, the debt that ensues as a result, and repayments are causing those in greatest need to suffer further uncertainty and hardship.
Even once these payments arrive, only 8% said that Universal Credit covered their cost of living. This was even less for disabled people or people with ill-health, of whom 5% said it covered their cost of living, and who have already been hit the hardest by austerity policies.
What to do?
The rise in food bank use is a symptom of a much bigger problem. A problem that has led to rising homelessness, rising A&E waiting times, schools unable to afford basic essentials, and people unable to afford menstrual hygiene products.
The signs are painfully clear; the system is broken.
Working people are struggling to get by, as the cost of living continues to creep up, and for those who need a little extra help to get by – the safety net is worn dangerously thin.
At the same time as austerity has battered most of the population, the top 1000 people in Britain have seen their wealth increase by hundreds of billions of pounds.This is what comes from a callous and incompetent Conservative government.
This is not an economy that works for the people of Britain. We deserve secure jobs, that actually pay. We deserve secure, affordable housing. We should have a safety net beneath us that isn’t threadbare. We should be able to cover the basic costs of living, and we all absolutely deserve to be able to afford food.
We are one of the wealthiest countries in the world – this is 21stCentury Britain – and that fact that hundreds of thousands of people are forced to turn to charity to feed themselves is absolutely shameful. The successive coalition and Conservative governments have presided over an exponential growth of food poverty and homelessness, that doesn’t look like changing anytime soon. The political choices of austerity have redistributed wealth to the top, whilst slicing services and welfare to the bone.
But it doesn’t have to be like this.
We know that homelessness and child poverty reduced dramatically under the last Labour government. We know that Labour brought the NHS back from the brink, and we know that Labour made work pay. It’s a shame that we have to fix everything all over again, but we absolutely will fix everything all over again. And do even more.
A Labour government will ensure our cash starved services get the money they need. It will ensure that work pays, and that a safety net is there for anyone who needs it. A Labour government understands that it is investment in our people, our services and our businesses that makes them so great, and a Labour government will absolutely tackle the shameful rise of food poverty, child poverty and homelessness.
Every day Labour aren’t in government, people are suffering. When the Conservatives call another election, we will be ready to fight them. In the meantime, we need to make sure dedicated and passionate Labour councillors are elected across the country, so they can begin to make the choices and the real difference that this country needs. If you are able, please join us on the doorstep or phone-banking. Any campaigning you can do online is greatly appreciated, and remember to just talk to your friends and family about the issues that concern you!
Together we will bring this country back from the depths that the Conservatives have sunk it to. It is possible, if you Vote Labour.