‘Shocking increase’ in use of food banks, says research

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There has been a staggering 163% rise in food bank usage over the last year, according to figures released by the charity The Trussell Trust today.

More than 900,000 people visited food banks in 2013/14, with benefit delays or benefit changes reported as the primary reason for referral in 48% of cases.

In 2013/14, 582,933 adults and 330,205 children (total, 913,138) received three days’ emergency food and support from Trussell Trust foodbanks, compared with 346,992 in 2012/13.

In a survey of 130 food banks conducted in March, 83% of food banks reported benefits sanctions have caused more people to be referred to them for emergency food. The Trussell Trust has launched over 400 foodbanks across the UK to date.

Oxfam’s head of UK poverty programme, Rachael Orr said: ‘Foodbanks and the thousands of people who support them are doing an impressive job in helping stop people from going hungry, but the truth is that in a country as rich as the UK there should not be food poverty at all.’

Chris Mould, chairman of the Trussell Trust, said: “That 900,000 people have received three days’ food from a foodbank, close to triple the numbers helped last year, is shocking in 21st century Britain. But perhaps most worrying of all this figure is just the tip of the iceberg of UK food poverty, it doesn’t include those helped by other emergency food providers, those living in towns where there is no foodbank, people who are too ashamed to seek help or the large number of people who are only just coping by eating less and buying cheap food.

“A more thoughtful approach to the administration of the benefits regime and sanctions in particular, increasing the minimum wage, introducing the living wage and looking at other measures such as social tariffs for essentials like energy would help to address the problem of UK hunger.”

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