Shocking 163% rise in food bank use
Almost a million people received emergency ration supplies from food banks in the past year – a shocking rise of 163% from the previous year – a new report by Trussell Trust has revealed.
Figures show 913,138 people accessed their food banks and were given three days’ emergency food in 2013-14, nearly triple the 346,992 in the previous year.
The report reveals the number was just 61,468 in 2010-11, the year the coalition government came to power, representing an unbelievable 1,385% increase in the course of the current parliament.
The Trussell Trust charity, which runs 400 food banks nationwide, blames “static incomes, rising living costs, low-pay underemployment and problems with welfare,” for the staggering increase in figures.
The Trust reported that 83% of the food banks they surveyed cited increasingly harsh benefit sanctions as the most significant driver for the increased demand.
A spokeswoman for the Department for Work and Pensions dismissed the claims, telling the BBC, there was “no robust evidence that welfare reforms or benefit administration are linked to increased use of food banks.”
The Trussell Trust alone is now launching two new food banks every week to meet growing demand.
However, Chris Mould, Trussell Trust’s chairman, has warned that these figures were “just the tip of the iceberg of UK food poverty,” pointing out that “it doesn’t include those helped by other emergency food providers, those living in towns where there is no food bank, 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.”
In response to the figures, a letter signed by more than 600 clergy, including the Archbishop of Wales, was mailed to the leaders of the three main political parties and published in the Guardian today.
It described the numbers as “shocking” and “terrible” and called upon the government to “commit fully to engage with the independent inquiry into the rise of UK hunger, championing its recommendations”.
Mr Mould said that in order to alleviate hunger and bring food bank use down, a “more thoughtful approach to the administration of the benefits regime and sanctions in particular,” was needed.
He also suggested increasing the minimum wage, introducing the living wage and bringing in “social tariffs” for essentials like energy as means of combating this spiralling problem.