4% rise in foodbank usage ahead of full Universal Credit rollout

4% rise in foodbank usage ahead of full Universal Credit rollout”

The number of people using the facility in Hammersmith and Fulham has jumped by 94 per cent.

Many recipients face waits of up to six weeks when transferring on to the benefit, which is being rolled out across the UK as part of welfare reforms aimed at saving the UK Government millions.

The charity fears the situation will worsen in the weeks leading up to Christmas, when demand for food is traditionally high.

She revealed that the foodbank has helped feed 4,601 hungry people so far this year, compared to 2,364 in the first half of 2016. "It's people like that, that when the water level goes up, are likely to drown and they're the people we are most concerned about".

Between 1 April and 30 September 2017, The Trussell Trust's foodbank network distributed 586,907 three day emergency food supplies to people in crisis, compared to 519,342 during the same period previous year - 208,956 of these went to children.

'Our Christian calling both reminds us to care for those in need and urges us to speak out and to challenge inequality where we see it.

Emma Thorogood, spokeswoman for the charity said: 'The stats show a 13 per cent increase on the same period a year ago.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has described the latest figures on foodbank use in Britain as "utterly shocking" and said that it is "a scandal that in 21st century Britain we have need of them at all".

The figures have been released today by the Trussell Trust charity, who are calling on United Kingdom policy-makers for urgent changes after seeing a 4% rise in foodbank usage in Wales.

Among the charity's main calls on the government include ensuring the six-week wait for the first payment is cut; a better availability of advanced loans with a three-month grace period; improving administration causing lengthy delays in payments and wrong payments. The six-week plus waiting period for a first payment can contribute to debt, mental health issues and rent arrears. These issues should be assessed and tackled across rollout areas.

Tony Graham, Wales Director at The Trussell Trust, said: "We are still seeing increasing demand at foodbanks across Wales driven by the inadequacy of income levels and issues with benefit payments, and this is ahead of the acceleration of full Universal Credit rollout".

The Department for Work and Pensions says Universal Credit is helping more people into work more quickly, that most people are paid in full from the start and help is available for anyone affected by delays.

About 41,000 children live in households due to move on to universal credit from mid-November, leaving parents struggling to afford seasonal treats and gifts as well as basic living essentials, the Peabody Trust housing association said.

Interim Chief Executive at The Trussell Trust, Mark Ward said: 'Our five point plan isn't going to fix everything - but these emergency measures would help mitigate some of the damage we're anxious will otherwise take place. Without urgent action from policy-makers and even more generous practical support from the public, we don't know how foodbanks are going to stop families and children going hungry this Christmas'.

'We're seeing soaring demand at foodbanks across the UK.

Low income, which refers to anyone in work or on benefits struggling to get by on their income, accounts for 27 per cent of referrals - suggesting certain pay and benefit levels are not protecting people from falling into crisis.

It is intended to be simpler than the current benefits system and will replace six existing means-tested benefits.

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