Posts in '2017'

We welcomed changes in the Budget but now is not a time for celebration

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“I lost my job in October and have been relying on money from friends and family to survive, but that is no longer possible.  I haven’t eaten for five days and will not get Universal Credit for six weeks, so went to the council in desperation – they gave me a foodbank voucher.  Thank you to the foodbank.”

This is just one of the many stories gathered by Trussell Trust foodbank volunteers and staff that we passed on to the Work & Pensions Select Committee inquiry into Universal Credit, publicised through press and social media, and I’ve had the opportunity to share directly with people at all levels of DWP ahead of the 2017 Budget.

It’s a credit to the people that run foodbanks in our network that alongside distributing a record 584,000 food parcels in the six months since April this year, they have also been able to gather and share such powerful evidence. Their careful counting and filing of foodbank referral vouchers also revealed how much more quickly foodbank demand is rising in areas where Universal Credit has seen full roll-out.

We were just one organisation amongst many calling for urgent reform and investment into Universal Credit, the most radical change to our welfare system for at least a generation. But I’m convinced that the evidence from foodbanks, including those not in The Trussell Trust network, was important in helping to secure £1.5bn to ‘ease the roll-out’ of Universal Credit in the Budget. Indeed, in the first of a recent series of Commons debates on Universal Credit, foodbanks were mentioned by dozens of MPs.

For a long time, many foodbanks have been doing a lot more than just the crucial work of distributing emergency food to people in crisis. Wednesday’s concessions by the Chancellor are, at least in small part, testament to that desire to campaign against the structural issues that drive people into poverty, hunger and through the doors of their local foodbank.

We of course welcomed the reforms to Universal Credit announced in the Budget. Shortening the six-week wait, allowing Housing Benefit to run on and easing repayment of benefit advances make the system better and, when implemented, will likely save thousands of people from misery and destitution as they transition onto the new benefit. Slowing its roll-out will also help.

But this is not a time for celebration.

Despite this investment, Universal Credit is not fixed. Five weeks is better than six, but that’s still going to be too long for many people without savings or other support to endure before they receive the money to which they are entitled. Benefit advances are still loans that must be repaid. Amongst a host of other recommended reforms the Resolution Foundation call for a more generous work allowance, and the JRF point out that the ongoing four-year benefit freeze will leave vulnerable groups, including single parents with children, worse off than before.

And though £1.5bn is an enormous sum, it is dwarfed by the scale of cuts to the welfare safety net in recent years. Alongside the benefit freeze mentioned above, tens of billions of pounds have been taken out of the welfare safety net in recent years. Little wonder, then, that Trussell Trust foodbanks are seeing increasing demand. In recent years issues with benefits have always been the main reason referrers send people to foodbanks.

And recent independent research by the University of Oxford into households referred to foodbanks (with data taken before Universal Credit had rolled out very far) painted a picture of a population already struggling financially to get by, vulnerable to the slightest income shock or unexpected expense. It found the majority of people coming to foodbanks were at the time supported by working-age benefits, and that groups that have been hardest hit by cuts were overrepresented in our foodbanks – including disabled people, single parents, single people and families with more than two children.

And worse, inflation – particularly food price inflation – is beginning to rise. How are families and individuals going to cope if we know so many are already vulnerable to unexpected expenses? Employment rates are currently at a record high – what would happen if an economic shock put that welcome trend into reverse? And looming over everything, what effect will Brexit have on the UK’s economy?

We at The Trussell Trust, people in the wider foodbank movement, and those who we proudly stand beside in the End Hunger UK campaign group, other organisations in the charity sector and beyond will keep on campaigning to tackle the issues that lead to poverty and hunger. But I fear that this winter will be a very difficult one for thousands of people across the UK. I have no doubt that come April next year The Trussell Trust will yet again announce record numbers have been referred to us for emergency food in 2017-18.

But to not end on too gloomy a note, this Budget and its significant concessions on welfare are something new. Government has listened to the many voices calling for a reverse to cuts and it has put its money where its mouth is. After many years and subsequent administrations have weakened the safety net that is meant to protect us from destitution and hunger, this is a substantial step in the right direction.

So let’s keep gathering evidence. Let’s keep sharing it with Government. Let’s keep campaigning. This Budget is proof that it can and does work.

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The Trussell Trust appoints a new Chief Executive

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Emma comes with a wealth of experience in the charity sector and is passionate about finding a long-term solution to help the growing number of people who are struggling to put food on the table.

A message from Emma:

“I am delighted to be appointed as Chief Executive of The Trussell Trust. The work of our foodbank network is inspiring and I relish the opportunity to work alongside them to tackle poverty and to end hunger in the UK. We face significant challenges ahead with the number of food parcels distributed by our network up by 13% in the first 6 months of this year to 587,000, with 209,000 going to children. 

“I want to see the end of the need for emergency food services in our country, to work with Government to ensure that our benefits system provides a genuine safety net for people and work is paid a fair wage, allowing individuals and families to thrive rather than just stave off crisis.

“Although the recent Budget marked a positive step forward, there is still much more to be done and I look forward to working with our staff and foodbank network to bring further change.”

 

Elizabeth Pollard, Chair of the Board of Trustees at The Trussell Trust said:

“I am delighted to announce that Emma Revie has been appointed to be the new Chief Executive of The Trussell Trust.

“Over the past year alone foodbanks in our network have helped hundreds of thousands of men, women and children referred to them in crisis, and demand is rising. With her enormously impressive track record, we are convinced that Emma has the vision and experience to lead The Trussell Trust through these challenges. 

“Through providing emergency food we will continue to help families and individuals at the point of crisis, while building more holistic ‘More Than Food’ services to give people the tools to build resilience. And we will continue to research, campaign and advocate for political solutions to the poverty that is forcing so many people through our doors in the first place.”

Emma, who joins us from Ambition, a national membership body for organisations working with young people, will take up her role in February 2018.

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Scottish foodbank research reveals welfare safety net ‘failing to maintain basic living standards’

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Access the full report: Non-food provision in The Trussell Trust Network in Scotland

  • Foodbanks are seeing and responding to ‘significant need’ for both food and non-food items across Scotland
  • Amongst the basic necessities, people referred to Scottish foodbanks needed, toilet roll, shampoo and soap are the most frequently requested
  • Feminine hygiene products are provided ten times more often in response to a volunteer’s question than an individual’s request, which could be due to the stigma surrounding ‘period poverty’

The Trussell Trust has called for urgent action on low incomes and destitution, as a new report reveals thousands of households in Scotland are forced to use foodbanks for non-food essentials.

The first survey into the non-food items distributed by Trussell Trust foodbanks in Scotland reveals that 90% provide nappies; feminine hygiene products; soap and shower gel; toothbrushes and toothpaste; shampoo and conditioner; toilet roll and deodorant on top of their standard emergency food parcel. 71% are able to go further and offer additional items such as pet food, cleaning products, washing powder, shaving foam and razors.

Laura Ferguson, Area Manager for Scotland, The Trussell Trust said today:

“It is shameful that so many people in Scotland must suffer the indignity of not having enough money to afford the absolute basics. Not just food, but soap, toothpaste and even feminine hygiene products.

“We know that the majority of people referred to foodbanks in our network are supported by working-age benefits, and time and again our data shows the main reasons people are referred to us are problems, cuts and changes to these benefits.

“Our generous donors and the volunteers and staff in foodbanks will strive to be there for people who would otherwise face going hungry. But we feel strongly that it should not be left to any charity to pick up the pieces of a welfare safety net that is failing to maintain basic living standards for all who need it.”

 

Between April 2016 and March 2017, The Trussell Trust’s foodbank network in Scotland provided 145,865 three day emergency food supplies to people in crisis. 47,955 of these went to children. Trussell Trust data reveals that issues with a benefit payment remain the biggest cause of referral to a foodbank across Scotland, accounting for 42 per cent of all referrals (23.49 per cent benefit delay; 18.41 per cent benefit change).

East Lothian Foodbank highlighted the problem:

“Once we had a referral for delivery to a family with four children, three with ages between 11 and 15. Sanitary products were requested and we asked how many of the children were girls – the reply was all of them… that’s a fair cost, three girls and mum all requiring hygiene products could be in the region of £15-£20 per month, every month and if on low income budget can be quite restrictive.”

 

The report warns that it is likely to underrepresent the true scale of the issue as it is difficult to measure the underlying need for feminine hygiene products based on the number of requests, as the stigma surrounding menstruation may present a barrier to individuals asking for help. In fact, data reveals that feminine hygiene products are provided nearly ten times more often in response to a volunteer’s question, rather than an individual’s request. Volunteers, therefore, use various methods to protect people’s dignity, such as discreetly asking if items are needed, providing them in every parcel for households with females, or placing them in ‘choosing boxes’ alongside other toiletries.

Stocks of emergency food, feminine hygiene products and other non-food items all vary between foodbanks, with a project’s ability to supplement nutritionally-balanced emergency food parcels with feminine hygiene products and other toiletries dependent on their local context. Foodbanks rely on donations from their local community in order to provide vital emergency help, and The Trussell Trust encourages anyone interested in donating food or additional items to check with their local foodbank as to which items are most needed.

 

ENDS

Notes to the editor

The Trussell Trust:

  • Between April 2016 and March 2017, The Trussell Trust’s foodbank network in Scotland provided 145,865 three day emergency food supplies to people in crisis. 47,955 of these went to children.
  • Trussell Trust foodbanks provide a three day supply of nutritionally balanced food and support to people in crisis in the UK. We also signpost people to other agencies and services able to help resolve the underlying cause of the crisis. As part of the charity’s More Than Food approach, many foodbanks also host additional services like debt/money advice, cooking and budgeting courses and holiday clubs.
  • Everyone who comes to a Trussell Trust foodbank is referred by a statutory or voluntary service professional such as a welfare rights advisor, social worker or health visitor. Over 4,700 agencies refer people to Trussell Trust foodbanks in Scotland, and 59 percent of these are statutory agencies.
  • There are 52 Trussell Trust foodbanks, and many of these run multiple centres so they can best reach local people in crisis – 118 centres in total are based across 28 of Scotland’s local authorities.
  • Over 90 percent of food given out by Trussell Trust foodbanks is donated by the public. In 2016/17, 1,270.5 tonnes of food were given out to people in crisis in Scotland.
  • The Trussell Trust is a charity motivated by Christian principles that runs the biggest network of foodbanks in the UK. For more on The Trussell Trust, please visit: trusselltrust.org

Trussell Trust figures cannot be used to fully explain the scale of the food poverty across the UK, because our figures only relate to Trussell Trust foodbanks and not to the hundreds of other independent food aid providers. Research from The Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) suggests The Trussell Trust network accounts for two-thirds of all foodbanks across the UK.

 

‘Non-Food Provision’ Report

This report is based on responses to a survey carried out with foodbanks within The Trussell Trust network in Scotland. 50 responses were received, covering 48 out of the 52 currently operating Scottish foodbanks (92%). There was feedback from all 28 local authorities in which The Trussell Trust has a presence, which provides a good indication of practice across the country.

A full version of the report can be accessed here: Non-food provision in The Trussell Trust Network in Scotland.

 

For Scotland-based media enquiries regarding The Trussell Trust, please contact

Scotland Network Assistant Lyndsay Cochrane:

Mobile: 07468 560 710 / Office: 01382 250063 / E-Mail: scottish.assistant@trusselltrust.org

For UK-based media enquiries regarding the Trussell Trust, please contact

Telephone: 020 3745 5982 / E-Mail: press@trusselltrust.org

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Foodbanks expecting busiest Christmas ever against backdrop of growing need

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  • Newly released figures reveal 47% increase in number of three-day emergency supplies provided by Trussell Trust foodbanks last December compared to the monthly average for 2016/17 financial year
  • Generous donations in December 2016 meant foodbanks met demand, but new data shows that there is still significant need in the following months when donations drop
  • Foodbanks are doing even more to help people in crisis but charity is calling on people to support their local foodbank in December and into the New Year to make sure need is met

The Trussell Trust is calling on the public to help people facing hunger during what is expected to be their foodbank network’s busiest Christmas to date. New data released today reveals that during December 2016, The Trussell Trust’s network provided 146,798 three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis; 61,093 of these went to children.

This a 47% increase on the monthly average of three-day emergency supplies provided in the 2016/17 financial year, which was 99,995. This means December 2016 was the busiest month for Trussell Trust foodbanks on record, but recent statistics showing a 13% in foodbank use during the first six months of this financial year suggest December 2017 will be even busier.

New data also shows that while December sees record demand, the need for foodbanks is growing and remains high through the start of the New Year into spring, when donations fall.*

Dec 2016

Figure 1 Three-day emergency food supplies given out monthly for financial year 2016/17 (April 2016 – March 2017), with line of best fit showing that demand is growing and remains high in the months following Christmas

Generous donations from the public in December 2016 meant foodbanks met the increased need in that month, but donations in January, February and March 2017 all fell below the monthly average of 931 tonnes for the 2016-17 financial year.**

This year, foodbanks are doing even more to make sure people aren’t left hungry at Christmas. Many foodbanks will be distributing presents to make sure children have presents under the tree, whilst others will be providing special Christmas food boxes with festive food or fresh turkeys. More foodbanks than ever will be running holiday clubs and community meals for families to make sure they have a hot meal and company over the Christmas break.

Mark Ward, Interim Chief Executive said today,

For many, this Christmas will not be a time for celebration. Every year we see a spike in demand at Christmas but this year foodbanks are expecting their busiest Christmas ever. At Christmas foodbanks will be working hard to provide not only those regular essentials, like pasta and cereal, but also little extras that offer hope at a time when people need it most. The stories are as inspiring as they are heart-breaking – one mum told us that she was relieved as her daughter’s first Christmas was taken care of with help from the foodbank.

“Last December, the public’s generosity meant foodbanks could help thousands of people across the country. But when the festive season is over there will still be people in our communities unable to afford food. Foodbanks rely on donations, which is why we’re asking the public to show that same generosity again, not only this December but in the months that follow Christmas too.”

The Trussell Trust has launched its Christmas campaign to help raise funds to support its network of foodbanks. The Trust relies on voluntary donations to help foodbanks carry out they amazing and essential work, as well as developing and implementing projects designed to tackle the underlying causes of poverty. You can donate to the campaign here.

To find information on what items of stock are most needed at individual foodbanks in The Trussell Trust’s network, find their website via https://www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank/ and click on the links to “Give help”/”Donate food”.

ENDS

Notes

*All data representing three-day emergency food supplies is a measure of volume and not unique users. As we work with a live data system, numbers will increase with time as foodbanks input more data into the system. The numbers below are accurate as of 22/11/17.

April 2016 67,262 October 2016 91,007
May 2016 96,939 November 2016 102,976
June 2016 84,625 December 2016 146,798
July 2016 86,106 January 2017 103,278
August 2016 95,640 February 2017 102,045
September 2016 105,048 March 2017 118,211

 

**Donations to The Trussell Trust’s foodbank network, in tonnes, month-to-month during the last financial year:

November 2016 911 tonnes
December 2016 2,178 tonnes
January 2017 860 tonnes
February 2017 650 tonnes
March 2017 768 tonnes

 

The Trussell Trust:

  • Every day people in the UK go hungry for reasons ranging from redundancy or bereavement to welfare problems or receiving an unexpected bill on a low income. The Trussell Trust’s network of over 420 foodbanks provides three days’ emergency food and support to people in crisis across the UK.
  • From April 2016 to March 2017, Trussell Trust foodbanks provided 1,182,954 three day emergency food supplies to people in crisis. Of those helped, 436,938 were for children. Trussell Trust statistics are collected using an online data collection system into which foodbanks enter the data from each foodbank voucher. The system records numbers given three-day emergency food supplies. The Trussell Trust is measuring volume – the number of people to whom it has given three days’ food supply (containing enough food for 10 meals), but these are not necessarily unique people. Find out more at https://www.trusselltrust.org/news-and-blog/latest-stats/ .
  • Everyone who comes to a Trussell Trust foodbank is referred by a frontline professional agency like Citizens Advice, housing associations and children’s centres.
  • Trussell Trust foodbanks do much more than food: they provide a listening ear and help resolve the underlying cause of the crisis either through signposting onto relevant local charities or providing on-site immediate support, such as holiday clubs or budgeting and cookery courses.
  • Find out more at trusselltrust.org

 

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The Trussell Trust responds to The Budget

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Following the announcement of today’s Budget our Interim Chief Executive, Mark Ward, responds.

“We welcome the Chancellor’s announcement today of a package to address concerns around the operational delivery of Universal Credit. Cutting the waiting time by seven days, modifying the advance payment system, and ensuring that people will continue receiving housing benefit for two weeks after moving onto the new system, will ease the pressure on thousands of households on very low incomes who would otherwise have been thrown into crisis applying for Universal Credit.

“This decision shows that Government is listening to and acting on the evidence from foodbanks that have been tirelessly supporting people waiting too long for their payments, whilst also building the case for why that wait pushes people further into poverty and hunger.

“Foodbanks tell us there’s more to be done – poor administration within Universal Credit is pushing people into crisis and more widely, the benefits freeze is further squeezing stretched incomes. However this is a positive step in the right direction and we look forward to more detail from the Secretary of State tomorrow.”

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Why we welcome the new All-Party Parliamentary Group on Foodbanks

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There are a lot of foodbanks in the UK. The Trussell Trust network of foodbanks encompasses more than 1,200 distribution centres, while the Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) has counted a further 714 independent foodbanks right across the UK.

That’s thousands of ordinary people, mostly volunteers, who give up their time to help their neighbours in a time of crisis with food generously donated by the public. In fact we worked alongside our friends at IFAN to calculate that volunteers contribute more than 4 million hours in support to UK foodbanks every year.

(more…)

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Guest blog: We should stop debating and start solving increasing foodbank use

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UCL has always led on issues of significance to the nutritional health of the nation. Dr Jack Drummond, the first Professor of Biochemistry at UCL and former Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences, was the wartime Scientific Advisor to the Ministry of Food, which introduced food-rationing on the basis of his “sound nutritional principles”. It was essential work because a 1936 survey had suggested that half of the British population could not afford an adequate diet. Food poverty is a major public health concern again. One of its most visible symptoms is the number of people attending Foodbanks to receive emergency food aid. The Trussell Trust has reported that in the first 6 months of this year, referrals were up by 13% to 587,000 people, including 209,000 children.

At UCL, we did not know if these numbers told the whole story or were merely the tip of an unpleasant iceberg. One telephone survey had already suggested that the latter was the case.

We therefore used an experimental design to answer the question by including a control group of people who were on low incomes but were not destitute. The comparison between foodbank users and this control group could then be linked to the findings of the large National Diet and Nutrition Surveys which have reported on the nutritional health of the general population and of those on low incomes. This hierarchical approach was designed to put the scale of food poverty into a national context. For example, problems arising from a poor diet during early childhood are legion and lifelong and should be a matter of national public health concern.

We recently released the findings of our study comparing the demographics and circumstances of 270 people seeking help from foodbanks, against 245 attending Advice Centres (AC) and Law Centres (LC) across three London boroughs (Islington, Wandsworth and Lambeth). The majority of foodbank, AC and LC clients report having low income and therefore often seek help from frontline crisis providers. ACs and LCs provide free advice and legal representation to their clients on a host of different issues including housing, immigration, money, and welfare support.

Our findings confirm a report released earlier this year from Kings College London and the University of Oxford, which found that foodbank users living in extreme poverty were vulnerable to income shocks, if there were unexpected events or expenses associated with them. We have also added ‘cold, hard facts’ to support the early report on “Emergency Use Only” which identified that ‘income crisis’ was the main driver of foodbank use. The authors identified the combination of ongoing financial strains and adverse life events as a cause of significant or total loss of income which led to destitution.

Today, we extend these ‘landmark’ studies and demonstrate that even those attending ACs and LCs are also at risk of being more food insecure if they are not receiving their benefits due to sanctions or delays, or have experienced serious life events in the past 6 mvonths.

What did we find?

We found that welfare-related issues were the most common reason to seek help from these front-line emergency services. This highlights that these charities have been a lifeline for those allowed to fall through the welfare ‘safety-net’, which is created as a last line of defence against destitution in the UK.

Our data showed that there was no such thing as a ‘typical foodbank user’ which distinguishes him or her them from the rest of the community, though a higher proportion of foodbank users taking part in this research were single adults, single parents or were homeless (including those living in temporary accommodation). One in three also had children living with them at home. Thus, it is likely that these children were not getting sufficient nutrients required for growth during crucial developmental stages.

We also found that living on a very low income, coupled with a sudden life event (e.g. relationship breakdown, illness, loss of benefits due to delays or sanctions) can throw someone into destitution. This also applies to those attending ACs and LCs when we pooled the analysis across the sample. Interestingly, food insecurity is common outside of the foodbank setting. We found that three out of four individuals attending ACs and LCs were food insecure, but less than 10% had been to a foodbank.

The three of us (myself and two MSc students who helped with data collection) met many participants who broke down in tears when completing our questionnaire. This required people to reflect on adverse events in their lives, on disrupted eating patterns and on their mental health. Some just could not believe that they now found themselves in a foodbank, as they had always worked hard for most of their lives. However, all of these cases just conveyed the sense of normality that nobody is immune to hard times, and anyone could find themselves in need of a foodbank.

handwritten-comment-1

 

One person we spoke to, James (not his real name), commented on how the questionnaire made him reflect on the difficult period endured before his referral to a foodbank. This included relationship breakdown, struggling with mental health issues and food insecurity. Nevertheless, like many of our participants, they hoped that through their participation they would be able to raise awareness of what they had faced before they were referred to the foodbank.

So, what can be done?

From our data, the cause of food insecurity, and thus foodbank use, is ‘complex’. However, it does not mean it is too complex to be fixed, but it does require less debate and more concrete action to solve. As we found out, time and time again, behind these numbers there are people going through extremely hard times and experiencing hunger on a daily basis here in the UK.

Our data suggests that in the immediate term, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) should ‘pause and fix’ the problem with Universal Credit before it is rolled out. The specific problem is that there is a minimum waiting time of six weeks before the first monthly Universal Credit payment will be made. This waiting time is too long. Those coming to the foodbank have little to no financial resilience against the sudden loss of income caused by this waiting time.

We support the recent call for a national survey of food insecurity to understand the true scale of the problem. It is clear that foodbank use is a poor proxy for food insecurity, because fewer than 10% who were food insecure in ACs and LCs had been to the foodbank. Unless we know the scale of the problem, we will not know how to fix it.

Lastly, we welcome the effort to strengthen the relationship between foodbanks and advice and law centres. It can be seen that welfare and food insecurity were common issues across both populations. These charities have been a lifeline for those falling through the welfare ‘safety-net’. Yet, an increasing demand for their services means they may not be able to catch everyone who falls through to get the advice and legal representation they need. One of the ways to foster such collaboration is to extend the funding given to enable this cross-service collaboration.

About the project

  • A copy of the paper is available upon request from the lead author: Edwina Prayogo prayogo.12@ucl.ac.uk
  • This research was a collaborative work between researchers at University College London (UCL) (Edwina, Prayogo, Dr George Grimble, Nurul Dina Rahmawati, and Thomas Waterfall), University of Southampton (Dr Mary Barker), University of Bath (Dr Sarah Chapman) and University of Bedfordshire (Dr Angel Chater). It was jointly funded by UCL Division of Medicine, Dr John Avanzini Ministries, and conceptualised through the initial grant from UCL Grand Challenges.
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British Airways starts a nationwide food collection for The Trussell Trust

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The British Airways Community Investment programme is coordinating a food collection for local Trussell Trust foodbanks from all its staff bases. The appeal runs from 6th November until 8th December. Staff are focusing on those food items most needed at their local foodbank and are also allowed time to volunteer at foodbanks over this period.

Winter can be a busy time for our foodbanks, and the very basic items that people take for granted are often something that foodbanks are in desperate need of. We’re concerned the current situation will only get worse in the months leading to Christmas when demand for emergency food traditionally spikes.

British Airways have been supporting our Slough and West Drayton foodbanks for some time, but their kind support has now spread across the UK. Sue Sibany-King, Foodbank Manager at Slough said: “It’s great news that British Airways has extended what is already a strong relationship with the rest of the UK. Now a lot more foodbanks in the Trussell Trust Network can benefit from the generosity of British Airways employees.”

Sue continued to say that: “Here at Slough foodbank, we aim to create an understanding and non-judgemental space for our clients to visit. A hot drink, a few biscuits and a chat can make a huge difference to our clients.’ We would like to extend our thanks to British Airways for supporting people in crisis.

We would love to hear your stories about how the collection is going on in your office. Share your pictures across Twitter and Facebook using #FlyingStart. Check back here soon to see how much you have collected!

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Foodbank demand soars across the UK

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  • 586,907 three day emergency food supplies given to people in crisis in first half of this year, a 13% increase on the same period last year – 208,956 to children
  • Foodbanks in areas of full Universal Credit rollout for six months or more have seen a 30% average increase six months after rollout compared to a year before
  • Foodbanks report serious effects of six-plus week waiting period, poor administration and inability of current advance payment system to support everyone on no income
  • The Trussell Trust unveils five point plan for decision-makers and calls on public for donations to stop people going hungry this Christmas

Between 1st April and 30th 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 last year, 208,956 of these went to children. This is a measure of volume rather than unique users, and on average people needed around two foodbank referrals in the last year.* [see notes to editor] The figure, distributed before full Universal Credit rollout accelerated in October 2017, means the foodbank network is already on course to distribute a new record number of food parcels in 2017-18.

The charity is concerned the situation will worsen in the months leading to Christmas when demand for food traditionally spikes, and when the number of foodbanks in areas of full Universal Credit service will triple. New analysis of Trussell Trust foodbanks in areas of full Universal Credit rollout shows that foodbanks in areas of full rollout for six months or more have seen a 30% average increase six months after rollout compared to a year before. Comparative analysis of foodbanks not in full Universal Credit rollout areas showed an average increase of 12%.**

Trussell Trust data reveals that issues with a benefit payment remain the biggest cause of referral to a foodbank across the UK, accounting for 43 percent of all referrals (25 percent benefit delay; 18 percent benefit change). New analysis of foodbank data*** also shows that:

  • Of people referred due to a benefit delay, 45% of referrals made due to a wait for a first payment were related to Universal Credit and 36% of referrals made because a new claim had not yet been awarded were related to Universal Credit.
  • Of people referred due to a benefit change, 38% of referrals made due to a change to a different benefit were related to Universal Credit.

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

MOY2017-primary-referral-causes-twitter

Foodbanks are responding to the impact of Universal Credit in a variety of ways but many are reporting extra pressure on food donation stocks, and several have highlighted concerns about volunteers’ time and emotional welfare. Foodbank managers across the UK identify three main obstacles to meeting future need: longer term issues requiring higher than average number of foodbank referrals; overwhelming numbers of people needing help; and food donations not meeting need.

To help prevent people facing hunger at Christmas, The Trussell Trust is asking policy-makers to urgently take action on:

  1. Six-week wait: As a matter of urgency, the 6 week wait for the first payment must be cut to make sure people aren’t left without money and in need of a foodbank. To start with, the two waiting periods, a week at the start of a claim and a week after a month’s assessment period, should be reduced.
  2. Advance loan repayment: there must be better availability of advance loans which are affordable to repay and do not throw people back into crisis. A three month grace period before starting repayments should be made available, as well as information about paying back smaller proportions of an advance loan so people can agree an appropriate repayment plan.
  3. Poor administration: 1/5 of people are waiting for longer than 6 weeks***; documents are being lost; people are being overpaid or underpaid; and finding themselves in debt or rent arrears. These issues should be assessed and tackled across rollout areas.
  4. Transition between legacy benefits and Universal Credit: when someone moves onto Universal Credit, any benefit previously paid automatically stops. All benefit payments should run on until Universal Credit payments start, with a focus on Housing Benefit.
  5. Benefit level freeze: although Universal Credit rollout is a key concern, foodbank referral data and University of Oxford research suggest benefit levels more widely are not preventing people from reaching crisis point. Ahead of the Budget, the Government should reassess its current four-year freeze on benefit levels.

Mark Ward, Interim Chief Executive at The Trussell Trust, said:

“We’re seeing soaring demand at foodbanks across the UK. Our network is working hard to stop people going hungry but the simple truth is that even with the enormous generosity of our donors and volunteers, we’re concerned foodbanks could struggle to meet demand this winter if critical changes to benefit delivery aren’t made now. People cannot be left for weeks without any income, and when that income does come, it must keep pace with living costs – foodbanks cannot be relied upon to pick up the pieces.

“Our five point plan isn’t going to fix everything – but these emergency measures would help mitigate some of the damage we’re worried 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.”

The Trussell Trust is therefore calling for help from the public to make sure people in crisis get the support needed. To find information on what items of stock are most needed at individual foodbanks, find their website via https://www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank/ and click on the links to “Give help”/”Donate food”.

MOY2017-Regional Breakdown Map

ENDS

Notes to Editor:

Contact:

Please contact The Trussell Trust media team on 020 3137 3699 / press@trusselltrust.org. Out of hours call 07789 642 727.

The Trussell Trust:

  • The Trussell Trust is an anti-poverty charity that runs a network of 428 foodbanks across the UK.
  • Trussell Trust foodbanks provide three days’ nutritionally balanced food and support to people in crisis in the UK, and many foodbanks offer free additional services, like money advice and budget cookery courses as part of the charity’s ‘More Than Food’ approach, to build resilience and help prevent people needing referral to a foodbank again. Foodbank volunteers are also trained to signpost people to other agencies and services able to help resolve the underlying cause of the crisis.
  • Everyone who comes to a Trussell Trust foodbank is referred by a professional such as a social worker, health visitor or schools liaison officer. Over 40,000 frontline professionals refer people to Trussell Trust foodbanks, and 50 percent are statutory agencies.
  • Over 90 percent of food given out by Trussell Trust foodbanks is donated by the public. In April to September 2017, 4,709 tonnes of food were donated.
  • The Trussell Trust is a charity motivated by Christian principles. For more on The Trussell Trust visit trusselltrust.org

Trussell Trust foodbank statistics:

**New analysis of Trussell Trust foodbanks in areas of full Universal Credit rollout shows that foodbanks in areas of full rollout for six months or more have seen a 30% average increase six months after rollout compared to a year before. This has been calculated by summing individual foodbank data for the six months before and after Universal Credit full service went ‘live’ in their area, and calculating the percentage increase between the start and end points of the ‘best fit’ trend line.

Comparative analysis of 260 other foodbanks that are not in full Universal Credit rollout areas over the showed an average increase of 12%.  This has been calculated by assigning each foodbank a ‘go live’ month at random, and, for those foodbanks with more than 6 months since their an assigned “go live” date, summing individual data for the six months before and after that ‘go live’ month, and calculating the percentage increase between the start and end points of the ‘best fit’ trend line.

*Trussell Trust statistics are collected using an online data collection system into which foodbanks enter the data from each foodbank voucher. The system records numbers given three day emergency food supplies. The Trussell Trust is measuring volume – the number of people to whom it has given three days’ food supply (containing enough food for 10 meals). The Trussell Trust has consistently measured figures in this way and reports them at the middle and end of each financial year. Trussell Trust figures clearly state that we are counting the number of people to whom three days’ food has been given, but these are not necessarily unique people. Our data system can calculate the average visit frequency within a time period and shows people visited on average around two times in the 12 months to September 2017, leading us to estimate that approximately 293,451 people are likely to have been unique users in April – September of this year.

  • Trussell Trust data collection seeks to comply with ONS guidance. The Trussell Trust receives technical advice from a former senior government statistician, and has consulted with a range of statisticians ahead of publication.
  • ‘Benefit delays’ refer to people not receiving benefits to which they are entitled on time, this category can also include problems with processing new claims, or any other time-lags in people receiving their welfare payments.
  • ‘Benefit changes’ refers to the problems resulting from a change in people’s welfare payments, for example, people having their benefits stopped whilst they are reassessed. This can also include a sanction.
  • ‘Low income’ refers to anyone who is struggling to get by on a low income. This could be people in work, or people on benefits, for whom a small crisis e.g. boiler breaking down or having to buy school uniform etc, can be enough to mean that they cannot afford food.

*** The Trussell Trust’s data collection system now allows for referral agencies to provide further information on why someone has been referred. 17% of vouchers between April and September 2017 included this secondary level of information on the reason for foodbank referral:

Referral reason – primary reason and secondary data Related to Universal Credit Related to Job Seekers Allowance Related to Employment Support Allowance Additional benefit types
Benefit change: sanction 27% 29% 31%
Benefit change: change to a different benefit 38% 19% 25%
Benefit change: reduction of benefit value 17% 10% 31%

12% child tax credits

10% Personal Independence Payments

Benefit delay: new claim not yet awarded 36% 23% 25%
Benefit delay: awaiting new payment 45% 20% 22%
Benefit delay: interrupted payments 18% 17% 40%

Trussell Trust figures cannot be used to fully explain the scale of the food poverty across the UK, because our figures only relate to Trussell Trust foodbanks and not to the hundreds of other independent food aid providers. Mapping by The Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) suggests that Trussell Trust foodbank centres account for roughly two-thirds of all emergency food aid provision in the UK: you can read more about this here.

*** Statistics from the Department for Work and Pensions: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/universal-credit-payments-and-labour-market-reports-published

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Our response: Universal Credit helpline will be free by the end of the month

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This morning David Gauke, Secretary of State for the Department for Work & Pensions, announced the Universal Credit helpline will be free by the end of the month, and all DWP helplines will be free by end of the year.

Here’s our response:

“Since our Early Warnings report in April, The Trussell Trust has consistently highlighted the impact of the cost of the Universal Credit helpline – a foodbank in our network even reported they had installed new phones in their centre because people referred to them couldn’t afford to call the helpline from home.

“We therefore welcome David Gauke’s announcement today that there will be no charge for calling this helpline by the end of this month, and for all DWP helplines by the end of the year. This is a sensible first step in starting to address some of the issues with Universal Credit seen by Trussell Trust foodbanks, but their experience tells us that there are other significant barriers that still need to be addressed to prevent people affected by Universal Credit issues from needing a foodbank.”

Garry Lemon, Head of Media & External Affairs

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