The Trussell Trust has been monitoring the impact of Universal Credit in foodbanks across the country. The charity’s most recent research found only 8% of people referred to a foodbank following an issue with Universal Credit were offered support from their local Jobcentre or local authority during the wait for a first payment.
Responding to the Department for Work & Pensions’ announcement today that Citizens Advice will deliver more Universal Support services to people making claims under the new benefits system, Universal Credit,
Garry Lemon, Director of Policy & Research at The Trussell Trust said,
“We welcome the Department for Work & Pensions’ announcement today that Citizens Advice will be delivering a more comprehensive Universal Support service to people making a Universal Credit claim from April. Strengthening the system – which should provide wrap-around support to everyone making a new claim – will make a real difference to thousands of people navigating a completely new, digital service whilst under extreme financial pressure.
“Over the last two years many people referred to foodbanks in our network have told us they haven’t been able to access enough help from Universal Support, and what help is available varies place to place, so it’s good to see the Department for Work & Pensions listening to, and acting on, these concerns.
“Foodbanks tell us there’s more to be done, and as we look ahead to the challenges of the next stage of Universal Credit, when the 3 million people already receiving tax credits or benefits payments will need to reapply under the new system, we are seriously worried about more people needing foodbanks. This announcement gives us hope that the Government will listen to our concerns on this too, and take responsibility for moving people onto the new system when they finalise their plans on the next stage of Universal Credit later this month.”
The charity is calling for lessons to be learnt from the roll-out so far ahead of the next stage of the new benefits system beginning, which will see the 3m people already receiving a benefits or tax credits payment under the old system sent a letter saying that money will stop and they need to apply online for Universal Credit. Even if everything goes to plan, every single person will be waiting at least five weeks for a first payment. Read more here.
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About The Trussell Trust:
- The Trussell Trust is an anti-poverty charity that runs a network of 428 foodbanks across the UK.
- It is simply not acceptable that so many people in the UK face hunger, and we won’t sit by whilst increasing numbers of people are expected to hit crisis and need a foodbank’s help. We’re determined to create long term change, challenging the structural issues that lock people into poverty and seeing an end to the need for foodbanks.
- Whilst we work towards this, we’re committed to ensure everyone referred to a foodbank in our network receives the best possible support, so we help foodbanks to offer much more than food: volunteers are supported to provide a listening ear and help resolve the underlying cause of crisis either through signposting onto relevant local charities or providing on-site immediate support, such as money advice and budget cookery courses.
- Read more at trusselltrust.org