Posts in '2018'

A big festive thank you

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This is a guest blog post by our partner Asda.

This Christmas, we’re saying a big festive thank you to everyone helping to deliver our £20m Asda Fight Hunger Create Change campaign. That’s all the unsung heroes – the volunteers, our colleagues and our customers – who share our vision that no-one in this country should go hungry.

People like Christine Bromley, who volunteers at FareShare’s East Midlands warehouse four days a week between 8.30am and 5.30pm.

Read about Christine and some of our other volunteers

Christine, who’s 67 and has two children and four grandchildren, said: “I’ve lived and worked in Leicester all of my life, so it means a lot to me to be able to help people from all walks of life in the city.

“I know there are lots of people in the city that need help – it’s the same in any big city.

“I used to work as a secretary, but in 2015 the company I worked at went under. I decided I wanted to become a volunteer and now I spend four days a week at the warehouse, working on average eight hours a day.

“I just wanted to help people, and also stop food waste. Good food being thrown away just shouldn’t be happening so I really wanted to do something to help.

“I used to go out with the drivers and see the people we help for myself – foodbanks, hostels, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, schools – and it was a real eye-opener. You appreciate how fortunate you are. I feel like I’m doing a good deed by helping all these people who are in need.”

“I really enjoy it. My family think the fact I volunteer here is brilliant, they’re all for it too.”

“When I worked as a secretary I felt like I was just a number, and it was all about profits only. This is completely different, it’s not for profit and is a much more positive and friendly environment.”

Asda’s Fight Hunger Create Change campaign has funded a new warehouse for FareShare East Midlands, meaning they can provide even more food to those in need.

Christine said: “Asda’s support means a lot to me, and it means a lot to everybody at FareShare. Asda being involved really highlights the work we do and the work FareShare does, so people find out about us, know what we’re about and how we help people.”

“The new warehouse is a lot better, we’ve got much more room and more space for chilled products, we used to be tripping over each other in the old warehouse.”

“I load food on to the vans, book food in and tidy up – anything that needs to be done really. There’s always a lot to do, the days fly by.”

“It’s a very physical role but I enjoy that side of it too – I used to really dislike sitting at a desk all day!”

So here’s a big festive thank you to Christine, for everything that you do!

This Christmas, we’re saying a big festive thank you to everyone helping to deliver our £20m Asda Fight Hunger Create Change campaign. That’s all the unsung heroes – the volunteers, our colleagues and our customers – who share our vision that no-one in this country should go hungry.

People like Liz, the Community Champion at our Warrington store. She’s been working with a local group to provide fresh food for people in the local community in need.

It all started when Ames, a local volunteer, rang the store and asked what Asda did with its food waste and whether we could donate it to her project.

“Her idea was to put community fridges in various community centres,” said Liz. “Local supermarkets could donate food, and members of the public could access the fridge and take fresh food in times of need.”

“Ames at this point didn’t have a fridge, so I offered her space in store to bag pack and raise money for the first fridge.”

With the first fridge in place, Liz supported Ames to access food distributed through the FareShare network and the three Asda stores in Warrington began to donate food each month. Called the Hapi Hub project, there are now four of these community fridges in the area.

Liz said: “Ames has also set up a community lunch club, and with our support ran the first one using produce donated to make a fantastic two-course meal, open to everyone, for only £3.”

Liz helped raise money on the day and the Asda Foundation supported with a top up too.

“Three sessions later and Ames is over the moon to be in profit for Hapi Hub, which will enable the next step of the journey – cooking lessons for kids starting in January!”

So here’s a big festive thank you to Liz, and to Ames, for everything that you do!

This Christmas, we’re saying a big festive thank you to everyone helping to deliver our £20m Asda Fight Hunger Create Change campaign. That’s all the unsung heroes – the volunteers, our colleagues and our customers – who share our vision that no-one in this country should go hungry.

People like the Community Champion at Asda Middlesbrough, Jenny Barnett. Taking inspiration from our Fight Hunger Create Change campaign, Jenny contacted Redcar foodbank earlier this year to see if they needed help and has proved “a lifesaver” for them, setting up a permanent collection point in the store and volunteering with them every Wednesday.

The foodbank say they would have really struggled to stay afloat without Jenny and Asda’s help.

Foodbank manager Helen Hedges said: “The collection point has been a godsend to us, a real lifesaver, because sadly we’re getting more clients than ever. South Bank is quite a needy area.

“Sometimes we get half a ton of donations each month from Asda which has kept us afloat, particularly in the summer when we struggle for donations.”

“It’s brilliant having Jenny and Asda on board, the whole relationship works really well. She’s helped us set up awareness days in the store too which is great.”

“Jenny’s fantastic, particularly with the children who come in with clients.”

Jenny said: “With the Fight Hunger campaign I wanted the store to have a strong link to a local foodbank, so I contacted the one at Redcar.”

“I set up a permanent collection point and wanted to offer my services in person too. After my first shift there they said ‘please come back next week!’ so I go every Wednesday.”

“I have a great relationship with them, they’re absolutely brilliant – they’re like my best friends.

“When I’m there I help out in the cafe serving free hot meals to guests, wash up, make up food parcels, meet and greet the guests and play with their children while they’re getting support – anything they need.”

So here’s a big festive thank you to Jenny, and to Helen, for everything that you do!

This Christmas, we’re saying a big festive thank you to everyone helping to deliver our £20m Asda Fight Hunger Create Change campaign. That’s all the unsung heroes – the volunteers, our colleagues and our customers – who share our vision that no-one in this country should go hungry.

People like Jackie Beeley, who set up the Gateshead Foodbank with a group of church friends six years ago, when they discovered Gateshead did not have a foodbank.

Asda Gateshead’s community champion Lynn Ivison has helped them from their inception, and crucially helped them secure a permanent donation point in the store. This began six months ago and has made a huge difference to them.

Jackie said: “We set the foodbank up six years ago and it’s run totally by volunteers.”

“A few of us went to a local church concert and saw a sign for Durham Foodbank. We wondered if there was a Gateshead Foodbank and found out there wasn’t, so we thought it would be a good idea to set one up.”

“We gradually got volunteers and referral agencies on board and it went from there.”

“My working background is in social care and project management, so I use those skills to manage the foodbank.”

Jackie says that she has been really grateful for Lynn’s support.

“Lynn’s always been around to help us during the six years, and we’ve built up a great relationship with her” she said. “She also helped us get a £1,000 Asda Foundation for Christmas hampers to give out last year.”

“We hold awareness days in the store, and six months ago we got a permanent collection point in the store which has really taken off. Before that, they could only donate on our awareness days in the store.”

“Customers can now put food in whenever they want, and we go along every week to collect the donations. This is vital, we feed around 125 people a week, and we now have a regular supply of food which allows us to supply food to more people.”

So here’s a big festive thank you to Jackie, and to Lynn, for everything that you do!

This Christmas, we’re saying a big festive thank you to everyone helping to deliver our £20m Asda Fight Hunger Create Change campaign. That’s all the unsung heroes – the volunteers, our colleagues and our customers – who share our vision that no-one in this country should go hungry.

People like the fantastic team at FareShare’s London depot, who ensure essential food supplies are delivered to the charities and foodbanks helping people in need in the capital is expanding thanks to the Asda Fight Hunger Create Change campaign.

Derek Blunden is one of the volunteer drivers who distributes food for FareShare. He wanted to give something back to the community after selling his printing business following a cancer diagnosis.

Derek said: “I was going to work until I was 70, but I got diagnosed with prostate cancer about five years ago. About two years ago I fell asleep at work, which was due to the side effects of the treatment. I thought, ‘What am I doing, I’m 67 – I’m going to jack this in and give something back to the community.”

“I wanted to volunteer with the NHS but signing up with them would have taken several months, so I went along to a local volunteering centre. They suggested FareShare, and it’s been the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

“I distribute food parcels to all sorts of people – on a typical day I could be visiting a foodbank, a community centre hosting a meal for elderly people and a hostel for homeless people – and they’re all extremely grateful. That’s one of the best things about doing the driving job – you see the end product, and you’re the person they thank, even though all I do is deliver the food!”

We’re investing £20 million over the next three years to help FareShare and The Trussell Trust – and at FareShare’s London depot our funding has paid for a delivery driver and a charities coordinator to join full time.”

FareShare’s London development manager Rachel Ledwith says this will be a tremendous help.

She said: “Asda’s support is making a huge difference. This funding means we can expand our reach further across the city, reaching those communities in the Greater London boroughs where we are seeing an increasing need for our services.”

“Without drivers we have no way of delivering the food. Our volunteers are brilliant and keep our operation moving, but with an employed driver we have a guarantee that deliveries will happen on the days they work – it makes our operation and support much more sustainable.”

“FareShare’s mission is to access and redistribute the estimated 270,000 tonnes of food which goes to waste in the UK each year, and redistribute it to those in need. Asda’s funding is enabling us to do that – affording us the opportunity to invest in our resource to over the next three years, feed thousands more vulnerable people across London and the UK each week.”

So here’s a big festive thank you to Jeff, Rachel and all the team at FareShare London for everything that you do!

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Campaigning for change: how do we engage with politicians?

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A blog post by
Garry Lemon
Director of Policy, External Affairs & Research

 


At The Trussell Trust, we have been clear: no one in the UK should need to use a foodbank. But during the last year, we’ve seen huge increases in people being referred. This isn’t right. And it isn’t inevitable.

We can end hunger and poverty in the UK. Poverty acts like a current, with big structural things – like the rising cost of living or insecure work – sweeping people away and leaving them without enough money for the basics. We know what things will anchor people against those tides and reduce the need for foodbanks.

This isn’t just something we say, this is something we act upon as well.  In recent months we have:

  • Launched the biggest study into foodbank use in UK history, and spoke clearly and publically about how the groups that we find overrepresented in foodbanks are the same that have seen some of the harshest benefit cuts
  • Been in the vanguard of organisations speaking out against Universal Credit, with our research and experience of the failings of this new benefit discussed at all levels of Government
  • Submitted evidence to organisations like the United Nations and National Audit Office about the impact of policies on the ground
  • Gathered together evidence from foodbanks across the UK to successfully call for billions of pounds to be reinvested back into the benefits system. Though by no means fixing all the problems people face, this will make a real difference to the lives of millions of people in the future

We will continue to call for a benefits system that provides sufficient money and support to anyone who needs it; work that is secure and pays fairly; and emergency support from local authorities that fills the gaps when someone is hit by something unexpected.

But to make sure everyone in the UK can access these crucial elements of support, we need policy change. So we must work with the people who have the power to make that change.

As a charity, we work hard to engage with politicians of all parties to make sure that they recognise and understand the issues people referred to foodbanks face, and what needs to happen so people don’t need a foodbank in the future.

Charity law means we can’t be party political – but even if it didn’t, we think it’s important to talk to politicians of all parties. Poverty is an issue that needs action on all sides. If we want to create long-lasting change so people are protected from needing a foodbank in the future, we need everyone – irrespective of political opinion – to get behind the change that’s needed.

As an organisation, we’re clear what our work is about. We want to make sure everyone referred to a foodbank gets the best possible support, but at the same time we’re dedicated to bringing about long-term change so that help isn’t needed in the future.

We’re not a country that will stand for people needing foodbanks. I know the British public want to see a future where nobody is ever pushed to the doors of any charity because there isn’t enough money for the basics.

Getting there might not be easy, but it definitely can be done. Politicians’ support for foodbanks shouldn’t begin and end with a donation – they need to do more. I would ask all politicians to look at the evidence foodbanks in our network have gathered and to act upon it, with the first step they take being an end to the five-week wait for Universal Credit.

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More people than ever expected through foodbank doors this Christmas, as charity releases new figures

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The Trussell Trust says not only was December the busiest month for foodbanks last year, but year on year December figures are rapidly increasing, as it prepares for its busiest Christmas yet

New data released today shows December was the busiest month for foodbanks last year. During December 2017, The Trussell Trust’s network provided 159,388 three-day emergency food supplies to people in crisis; 65,622 of these went to children. This is a 49% increase on the monthly average for the 2017-18 financial year.

The figures reveal the year on year need for foodbanks in December is increasing steeply – the number of food supplies given to people mark a 10% rise from December 2016 when 144,677 were given out. (more…)

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The next stage of Universal Credit: what should the new Secretary of State do?

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A blog post by
Sumi Rabindrakumar
Head of Policy & Research 


The new Secretary of State has said she wants to make sure that Universal Credit “becomes a force wholly for good”. After successive cuts, flawed design and problematic delivery, this is a bold ambition. Her first test will be the much-anticipated next stage of Universal Credit roll-out – ‘managed migration’.

The government is poised to debate regulations which determine the process for the next stage of Universal Credit, where people claiming benefits under the old systems will need to move to the new benefits system. The task at hand cannot be underestimated. Three million people will have their benefits stopped and will need to reapply to continue to receive support.

The Trussell Trust, among others, voiced strong concerns that the government’s original proposals placed the burden of transfer entirely on claimants, putting at risk their income and vital promised protection for people receiving legacy benefits (‘transitional protection’).

The government’s revised proposals show some positive steps forward. These include more realistic deadlines for making new claims and additional two-week benefit payments to manage the five-week wait for a first payment. But, based on the evidence from our foodbank network, we know much more is needed to ensure people do not continue to be pushed into crisis by moving onto Universal Credit:

  • People still risk losing income, as old benefit payments will be stopped rather than automatically transferring people to the new system. There are many reasons why someone may not be able to apply for Universal Credit, for example if they are anxious about letters or do not understand the process. There is a very limited timeline for backdating, so missing your ‘deadline day’ can have serious consequences.
  • Testing has high stakes with little public scrutiny. A slow approach to the next stage of Universal Credit is sensible, but the success of transfer now rests almost entirely on the ‘test and learn’ process from July 2019, for around 10,000 claimants. The Department for Work & Pensions has committed to involving stakeholders and publishing an impact assessment before expanding ‘managed migration’, but has not stated what impact it will measure.
  • People will continue to suffer in the meantime. Hundreds of thousands of people will transfer to Universal Credit in the coming months, before ‘managed migration’ officially starts. Common life changes which leave you needing support, such as a separation, moving house, or losing a job, will mean you need to apply for Universal Credit. People in this position won’t see the improvements promised, and will still bear the brunt of the five-week wait for a first payment, until at least July 2020.

The now-former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions provided reassurances that the Department will take a “measured approach…to get it right”. Her successor has already acknowledged there are some “not insignificant areas that need changing”.

But words alone are not enough.

Parliament needs to vote to pass these regulations; we are calling on the government to use this opportunity to address the issues raised here and by others. Testing the use of existing information to generate new claims rather than dismissing this out of hand, agreeing success criteria for ‘test and learn’, providing the same support for people ‘naturally’ moving onto the system in the coming months and years – these are all firm and transparent commitments that can, and should, be made.

Too many people – claimants, volunteers, charities, local services – have borne the brunt of the government’s failings over Universal Credit to date. As the UN envoy reported last Friday, foodbanks cannot step in to do the government’s job.

Our benefits system should anchor people from being swept into poverty. The final stage of Universal Credit roll-out will be an important measure of how seriously the government takes this responsibility.

When these regulations are debated in the coming weeks, the new Secretary of State has a chance to do more than just listen. Instead, she can show that we have a government genuinely willing to protect people from crisis and make real improvements for households across the country.

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What does this week’s announcement on Universal Credit mean?

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A blog post by
Garry Lemon
Director of Policy, External Affairs & Research

On Monday afternoon the Government published an update to its plans for the next stage of Universal Credit, ‘managed migration’.

Until now, only people making a new application have gone onto the new benefits system. This next stage will see people already receiving a benefits or tax credits payment under the old system move onto Universal Credit.

At The Trussell Trust, we’ve been watching the development of these plans closely. As a nation we created systems like our national health service, fire service and benefits system because we’re a country that believes in protecting each other – but we’ve seen more and more people needing foodbanks in areas where Universal Credit has been rolled out.

We’ve been sharing evidence gathered by foodbank volunteers to highlight the things that need to change, and asking the Government to learn lessons from the roll out of Universal Credit so far in three ways:

  1. Take responsibility for moving people onto Universal Credit and make sure no one has a gap in their income if they’re already supported by the old benefit system
  2. Provide the right support for people on Universal Credit, so everyone is comfortable managing their claim digitally, has support with managing their finances if they need it and is offered payment flexibilities
  3. Publish a schedule for the next stage of Universal Credit, ensuring there are opportunities to review the process and make changes whilst it is underway if they are needed

So how do Monday’s announcements measure against these?

The updated plans show the Department for Work & Pensions is listening. Easing the rules around when you need to make a claim and when you can backdate late claims are positive steps. Together with the move in last week’s Budget to allow an extra two weeks of DWP payments from July 2020, these measures should help to reduce the risk of people losing out on vital income in the next stage of Universal Credit.

But there is much more to be done.

The government is still pushing the responsibility of this next stage onto claimants. People will need to make a new claim and therefore still risk losing their income. Without attempting to automate any part of the transfer process, the Government cannot claim this next stage of migration to the new system is ‘managed’ at all.

There’s also no information about whether the right support will be in place – this will be vital to ensure people aren’t left without money. The Government has pushed back the timeline for managed migration, to allow a ‘test and learn’ phase next year. This must lead to genuine safeguards and support, and we will continue to make sure the voices of people who have used foodbanks and volunteer in them inform the Government’s plans.

And finally, we must not forget that before the next stage of Universal Credit begins, thousands of people will be making new Universal Credit claims.

None of the changes announced in the last two weeks will be in place for people this winter – most won’t be seen for at least 18 months. Monday’s announcement won’t help people like Ruth, who spoke to the BBC this week about being forced to turn to a foodbank during the wait for a first Universal Credit payment. She needed our benefits system to anchor her from being swept into poverty after she was made redundant, but the gap in income left her struggling to cover the costs of essentials for her young family and she had to use a foodbank.

As a priority, we’re worried about  the problems people at foodbanks are experiencing with moving onto Universal Credit. If the wait isn’t reduced for all people making new claims, the only way to stop even more people like Ruth being forced to foodbanks this winter will be to pause all new claims to Universal Credit, until the necessary funding is in place. Reducing the five-week wait won’t fix everything, but it would make a real difference in protecting people from crisis.

Foodbanks cannot continue to pick up the pieces. We have to make sure our benefits system can protect people from hunger. Recent announcements are welcome, but only a start. Much more must still be done to ensure Universal Credit is preventing people from needing a foodbank, not pushing them to one.

 

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Action still needed on Universal Credit wait, as new figures show a 13% increase in foodbank use in just six months compared to this time last year

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The Trussell Trust’s foodbank network provided 658,048 emergency supplies to people in crisis between April and September 2018, a 13% increase on the same period in 2017. The charity says if the five week minimum wait for a first Universal Credit payment is not reduced, the only way to prevent even more people being forced to foodbanks this winter is to pause all new claims to Universal Credit.

The inability of benefit levels to cover essential living costs and issues with payments remain the most common reasons for referral to a foodbank. Universal Credit is not the only benefit people at foodbanks are experiencing problems with, but the new system is increasingly driving referrals due to benefit delays, which include waiting for a first payment or having problems with a new claim.1

Foodbanks typically receive more referrals for emergency support during the second half of the financial year, raising concerns that foodbank use this winter will rise further, as hardship experienced annually during the colder months is compounded by more people left waiting at least five weeks for benefit payments.

The Trussell Trust welcomes changes to Universal Credit announced in the recent Budget. However much of the support will not come into force until July 2020.2 To protect people who will move onto Universal Credit before that point, the charity is calling for the Department for Work & Pensions to be resourced to reduce the five week minimum wait for a first payment.

Emma Revie, Chief Executive of The Trussell Trust explains,

“We created systems like our national health service, fire service and benefits system because we’re a country that believes in protecting each other. Our benefits system is supposed to anchor any of us from being swept into poverty, but if Universal Credit is to do that, we need to see urgent changes.

“It’s not right that people are being forced to use foodbanks after weeks of waiting for Universal Credit payments. The changes announced in last week’s Budget are a good start – but they won’t solve all of the problems foodbanks see, and they won’t help people making new claims this winter.

“We’re seeing soaring levels of need at foodbanks. The time to act is now. If the five week wait isn’t reduced, the only way to stop even more people being forced to foodbanks this winter will be to pause all new claims to Universal Credit, until funding is in place to reduce the five week wait. Foodbanks cannot continue to pick up the pieces – we have to make sure our benefits system can protect people from hunger.”

A national petition calling on the Government to fix Universal Credit from the End Hunger UK campaign, backed by The Trussell Trust and a range of charities and faith groups, will be delivered to 10 Downing Street on Wednesday 7th November.

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Contact

Contact The Trussell Trust Press Office at 020 3137 3699 or press@trusselltrust.org.

Notes to Editor

  • Between 1st April and 30th September 2018, foodbanks in The Trussell Trust’s network provided 658,048 emergency supplies to people in crisis between April and September 2018. 232,761 of these supplies went to children.
  • This is a 13% increase on the same period in 2017, when 580,949 emergency supplies went to people in crisis; 206,327 of these went to children.
  • The main reasons for referral between April – Sept 2018 were: benefit payments not covering the cost of essentials (31%), benefit delays (22%) and benefit changes (17%)
  1. ‘Benefit delays’: The Trussell Trust can compare trends over time using data gathered from electronic foodbank referrals since April 2016. Electronic referrals are completed by referral agencies in the same way as traditional paper vouchers, and can collect more detailed information about the reason behind the referral.

Additional information about the type of electronic referral due to a ‘benefit delay’ includes waiting for a first payment, waiting for a new claim to be awarded and interrupted payments. Universal Credit accounted for the following proportion of electronic foodbank referrals due to a benefit delay:

Time Period Proportion of electronic referrals due to a benefit delay due to waiting for a new Universal Credit payment or award
1st April – 30th September 2017 16%
1st October 2017 – 31st March 2018 27%
1st April – 30th September 2018 31%

More information about our network’s electronic referral system and what the figures between April and September 2018 show can be found here.

  1. The Budget: The Trussell Trust welcomes the Universal Credit changes announced in the recent Budget, however the changes will not help everyone referred to a foodbank following a Universal Credit issue. Changes aimed at addressing the five-week wait will not come into force quickly enough to make a difference this winter.
  • While the government has now introduced 100% advance payments to manage the five-week wait, these must be repaid. The 2018 Budget announced the government would attempt to make repayments more affordable by reducing the maximum rate of Universal Credit deductions to repay debts from 40% to 30% of the Universal Credit personal allowance. It will also increase the period over which advances can be recovered, from 12 to 16 months. However, the former change will not happen until October 2019, and the latter only from October 2021.
  • Building on the 2017 Budget announcement that Housing Benefit claimants will receive an additional payment providing a fortnight’s worth of support during their transition to Universal Credit, the government announced that it will extend this to cover the income-related elements of Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance, and Income Support. However, this excludes significant groups, such as people receiving tax credits, and will only come into force from July 2020.

About The Trussell Trust:

  • The Trussell Trust is here to end hunger and poverty in the UK. We support a network of 428 foodbanks, operating out of more than 1200 centres across the UK.
  • It takes more than food to end hunger. We do three things: support our network to provide emergency food to people referred; help foodbanks provide additional support to resolve the cause of foodbank referral; and bring together the experiences of hundreds of communities on the frontline to challenge the structural issues that lock people in poverty. We’re campaigning for long-term change so we can see a future without the need for foodbanks.
  • Read more at trusselltrust.org

Trussell Trust foodbank statistics:

  • Trussell Trust statistics are a measure of volume rather than unique users. Our data system can calculate the average visit frequency within a time period and shows people visited on average around two times between April and September 2018, leading us to estimate that approximately 329,024 people are likely to have been unique users in this six month period.
  • The data is collected using an online system into which foodbanks enter data from each foodbank voucher, and the number of three day emergency food supplies (containing enough food for 10 meals) is recorded, along with the reason for referral.
  • Trussell Trust figures cannot be used to fully explain the scale of foodbank use across the UK, because our figures relate to foodbanks in our network and not to the hundreds of independent food aid banks. Research suggests that Trussell Trust foodbank centres account for roughly two-thirds of all emergency food banks in the UK. You can read more about this here.

 

 

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The Trussell Trust Responds to The Budget

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Responding to today’s Budget from the Chancellor, The Trussell Trust’s chief executive Emma Revie said:

“Today’s Budget suggests the Government has started to recognise our benefits system must be ready and able to support anyone who needs it. By restoring work allowances and increasing support to those moving onto Universal Credit the Government has listened to evidence from the frontline and from foodbanks. These are significant improvements that will make a real difference to many people supported by Universal Credit in the future.

“However, right now, more and more people across Britain are struggling to make ends meet, unable to afford food, and facing hunger as a result. The huge rise in foodbank use where Universal Credit has been rolled out is the opposite of what should be happening: our benefits system should be protecting people from needing a foodbank, not forcing people to use one.

“By failing to ensure benefits cover essential living costs, the Government risks undermining the health, wellbeing and dignity of millions of people.

“We know it doesn’t have to be like this. In a country that created a benefits system to anchor people from poverty, it is imperative that the Government goes further. We look forward to hearing more detail about what support will be in place during the next stage of Universal Credit.  We must see the Government act now to help end hunger and poverty in the UK for good.”

Analysis from The Trussell Trust shows a 52% average increase in foodbank use in areas that have had Universal Credit for 12 months, compared to 13% in areas that have not. Universal Credit is not the only issue driving foodbank use but it is an increasingly significant factor.

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Contact: The Trussell Trust press office on 020 3137 3699.

Notes to Editor:

Information about Universal Credit and foodbank use is available here.

About The Trussell Trust:

  • The Trussell Trust is an anti-poverty charity that supports a network of over 420 foodbanks across the UK.
  • In 2017-2018, 1,332,952 three day emergency food supplies were provided to people referred to foodbanks in The Trussell Trust’s network, a 13% increase on the previous year. Over a third of supplies (484,026) went to children.
  • It takes more than food to end hunger. The Trussell Trust therefore does three things: supports its network to provide emergency food to people referred; helps foodbanks to provide on-site additional help or signpost people to relevant local charities to resolve the cause of foodbank referral; and brings together the experiences of hundreds of communities on the frontline to challenge the structural issues that lock people in poverty and campaign for long-term change so we can see a future without the need for foodbanks.
  • Read more at trusselltrust.org
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The Trussell Trust responds to Universal Credit report from the Public Accounts Committee

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Universal Credit causes financial hardship for claimants, including increased debt and rent arrears, and forces people to use foodbanks, according to a report published by a cross-party committee of MPs today.

Responding to the conclusions of the Public Accounts Committee, Emma Revie, Chief Executive of The Trussell Trust, said,

“We’re a country that prides itself on doing the right thing. We created our benefits system to make sure support would be in place for each other, but today’s findings are clear: if Universal Credit is to continue this legacy, more must be done and it must be done now.  

“The report echoes the experience of people at foodbanks across the country. Waiting weeks for Universal Credit, not being able to access support, receiving payments that just don’t cover the cost of essentials – these are the things forcing people to use foodbanks. This is completely unacceptable.

“These Universal Credit issues are not one-offs, and with the next stage of the system looming, problems are only likely to increase if the Government doesn’t acknowledge the scale of the problem and learn the lessons of roll-out so far. This is the time to act – the Budget next week is an opportunity to do the right thing and invest in Universal Credit. If our benefits system is going to anchor people from being swept into poverty, it needs to be properly funded.” 

 Analysis from The Trussell Trust shows a 52% average increase in foodbank use in areas that have had Universal Credit for 12 months, compared to 13% in areas that have not. Universal Credit is not the only issue driving foodbank use but it is an increasingly significant factor.

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Contact: The Trussell Trust press office on 020 3137 3699.

Notes to Editor:

Information about Universal Credit and foodbank use is available here.

 

About The Trussell Trust:

  • The Trussell Trust is an anti-poverty charity that supports a network of over 420 foodbanks across the UK.
  • In 2017-2018, 1,332,952 three day emergency food supplies were provided to people referred to foodbanks in The Trussell Trust’s network, a 13% increase on the previous year. Over a third of supplies (484,026) went to children.
  • It takes more than food to end hunger. The Trussell Trust therefore does three things: supports its network to provide emergency food to people referred; helps foodbanks to provide on-site additional help or signpost people to relevant local charities to resolve the cause of foodbank referral; and brings together the experiences of hundreds of communities on the frontline to challenge the structural issues that lock people in poverty and campaign for long-term change so we can see a future without the need for foodbanks.
  • Read more at trusselltrust.org
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How can this year’s Budget reduce the need for foodbanks?

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Garry Lemon, Director of Policy, External Affairs, and Research

Universal Credit is at a crossroads. And it is in the upcoming Budget that we will get a better idea of what sort of a social security safety net our country will have in the future. The stakes could not be higher.

The new benefit has rarely been far from the front pages in recent days, and with good reason. The admission from the Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey that some households would indeed be much worse off under the new system has caused growing disquiet, and added to calls for reform or even scrapping of the system.

Here at The Trussell Trust we have long been warning that Universal Credit is not providing the support it should be, particularly for the people who need it the most – families with children and people with disabilities or illness.

Foodbanks in The Trussell Trust network have on average seen a surge in demand where Universal Credit has rolled out, and the evidence on the link between foodbank referrals and moving onto Universal Credit is growing stronger. A survey of people referred to foodbanks who were meant to be supported by the new benefit revealed the immediate and severe consequences of the five-week wait for payment. People told us of a lack of support, the inability of payments to cover the cost of living for people who most need it, and at times woefully poor administration leaving people penniless and destitute.

This, of course, is not how things were supposed to go. Universal Credit was supposed to support people into work, make work pay, simplify the system, and reduce error.

Whether the new system could have come close to this vision we do not know, as successive cuts have drastically reduced the generosity of the benefit – particularly for families with children and disabled people.  That’s why the health, wellbeing and dignity of millions of households now and in the future will depend on the Treasury reinvesting in Universal Credit so that it supports everyone that needs it.

With hints in the press that the Chancellor is reconsidering some of these decisions, we are calling for investment in Universal Credit, first to put the money taken out of the system back in, and second to fund proper support for people moving onto the system.

Families and disabled people have borne the brunt of cuts to Universal Credit. We want working families to keep more of what they earn by restoring the work allowance, and for Child Tax Credits and the Child Element of Universal Credit to be uprated in line with inflation. We are also calling for a reversal to the cut to the ESA ‘work related activity group’ and UC ‘limited capacity for work’ element from £102.15 to £73.10, reflecting the additional inescapable costs of living with a disability.

More support is needed for people moving onto the new system. For disabled people who move onto Universal Credit, we want to see a minimum two-week Employment and Support Allowance run on before the first payment, to ease the burden of the five-week wait. And while the announcement that Citizens Advice will lead on delivering Universal Support is a welcome step, more funding is urgently needed to ensure people can get the advice they need when moving over. This is even more urgent as the next stage of Universal Credit begins in 2019.

Across the UK, thousands of volunteers and donors have done an extraordinary job in the face of the challenges thrown up by Universal Credit, providing not just food, but links to vital services; a cup of tea and non-judgemental human interaction in a time of deeply distressing crisis in people’s lives.

But however dignified the service our volunteers provide, it is no substitute for the dignity of having enough money in your pocket to put food on the table for you and your family. To be able to afford bus fare. Toiletries. Sanitary products. Nappies for your baby. Winter clothes. A warm space for your child to do their homework.

With the right investment, the Government has an opportunity in the Budget to ensure Universal Credit works better, and moves us closer to a future where nobody in financial crisis is referred to a foodbank again.

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Charity warns next stage of Universal Credit could further increase foodbank use

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Anti-poverty charity The Trussell Trust fears the next stage of Universal Credit – which will see three million people moving from tax credits and the old benefits system onto the new system – could lead to a significant increase in foodbank use as new research highlights a major increase in the proportion of foodbank referrals made for people moving onto Universal Credit.

Issues with benefits are the main reason for all Trussell Trust foodbank referrals. Analysis of data from frontline agencies referring to foodbanks across the UK between April 2016 and April 2018 shows that benefit transitions, most likely due to people moving onto Universal Credit, are increasingly accounting for more referrals and are likely driving up need in areas of full Universal Credit rollout. Waiting for the first payment is a key cause, while for many, simply the act of moving over to a new system is causing hardship.

The findings come as the Department for Work and Pensions finalises its plans for the next stage of Universal Credit to take to Parliament later this month. Until now, only people making a new application for benefits in certain areas have been able to apply for Universal Credit. This next stage – ‘managed migration’ – will see the three million people currently receiving tax credits or benefit payments under the old system sent a letter telling them to reapply for these payments under Universal Credit.

Each person will have to wait at least five weeks for the first payment, and if people miss the deadline for application, could face having all their payments stopped. The Trussell Trust says this is particularly concerning because many people most in need of financial support will be in this group, with the majority relying on payments for housing, half claiming tax credits, and a third claiming disability benefits. Previous research shows half of people at foodbanks have a disability or health condition, or live with someone that does, suggesting they are already more likely to need a foodbank’s help.*

Emma Revie, Chief Executive of The Trussell Trust, explains:

“We created our benefits system in this country to free people from poverty, not lock them into it. As we look at the current plans for the next stage of Universal Credit, we’re really worried that our network of foodbanks could see a big increase in people needing help. Leaving three million people to wait at least five weeks for a first payment – especially when we have already decided they need support through our old benefits or tax credits system – is just not good enough. 

“It doesn’t have to be like this. We know the problems people are likely to face as they move over to the new system, so we can learn from them. The Department for Work and Pensions has shown they can act on evidence from the frontline to make a real difference to people who need our benefits system’s vital support. Now is the time for our Government to take responsibility for moving people currently on the old system over, and to ensure no one faces a gap in payments when that moves happens. Universal Credit needs to be ready for anyone who might need its help, and it needs to be ready before the next stage begins.”

The Trussell Trust recommends the Government moves people onto Universal Credit – rather than leaving people to make their own claim – to ensure there is no gap between old and new benefits payments; expands Universal Support, the wraparound digital and financial support service that should come with every Universal Credit claim; and publishes a schedule for the next stage of Universal Credit, ensuring there are opportunities to review the process and make changes whilst it is underway if needed.

Ends

Contact: The Trussell Trust press office on 020 3137 3699.

Notes to Editor:

The executive summary and full report, ‘The next stage of Universal Credit’, can be read here.

The Trussell Trust has been working with its network of foodbanks to monitor the impact of Universal Credit. Universal Credit is not the only benefit people at foodbanks experience issues with, but it is an increasingly significant factor.

Analysis of foodbanks that have been in full Universal Credit rollout areas for a year or more shows that these projects experienced an average increase of 52% in the twelve months after the full rollout date in their area. Analysis of foodbanks either not in full Universal Credit areas, or only in full rollout areas for up to three months, showed an average increase of 13%.

More information about the next stage of Universal Credit and The Trussell Trust’s concerns can be found here.

*More information about disability, health and foodbank use can be found in Financial insecurity, food insecurity, and disability, R Loopstra 2017: https://www.trusselltrust.org/what-we-do/research-advocacy/oxford-university-report/

About The Trussell Trust:

  • The Trussell Trust is an anti-poverty charity that supports a network of over 420 foodbanks across the UK.
  • In 2017-2018, 1,332,952 three day emergency food supplies were provided to people referred to foodbanks in The Trussell Trust’s network, a 13% increase on the previous year. Over a third of supplies (484,026) went to children.
  • It takes more than food to end hunger. The Trussell Trust therefore does three things: supports its network to provide emergency food to people referred; helps foodbanks to provide on-site additional help or signpost people to relevant local charities to resolve the cause of foodbank referral; and brings together the experiences of hundreds of communities on the frontline to challenge the structural issues that lock people in poverty and campaign for long-term change so we can see a future without the need for foodbanks.
  • Read more at trusselltrust.org

 

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