Posts in '2019'

Our new Prime Minister must work to protect us all from needing a food bank

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Following the announcement of Boris Johnson as the UK’s new Prime Minister, the Trussell Trust’s chief executive Emma Revie said:

“During the leadership campaign Boris Johnson told us “the poorest come first”. As our Prime Minister, he now has an opportunity to put those words into action and create a new vision for our country – one that unlocks people from poverty and protects us all from needing a food bank.

“Beyond Brexit, we have crucial choices to make about the kind of society we want to be. We must build a future that works for everyone – this means a benefits system that anchors people from being swept into poverty, work that is secure and fairly paid, and more affordable costs of living.

“In particular, we need Universal Credit to be the poverty-fighting reform that was intended. The most urgent problem to address is the five week wait for Universal Credit. More and more people are being pushed to the doors of food banks while waiting for a first payment. Our new Prime Minister can change this by ending the wait. At the heart of any plan for our country’s future must be a commitment to protect all of us from poverty.”

Ends

Contact:

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

Notes to Editor

The Trussell Trust’s #5WeeksTooLong campaign is calling for an end to the 5+ week wait for Universal Credit.

  • ‘Emergency food parcel’: three days’ emergency food for one person. These statistics are a measure of volume rather than unique individuals. Recent analysis shows on average people need around two food bank referrals in a year. More information about the way this data is gathered and what it can and can’t show here.

About the Trussell Trust:

  • We’re here to end the need for food banks in UK.
  • We support a UK-wide network of more than 1,200 food bank centres and together we provide emergency food and support to people locked in poverty, and campaign for change to end the need for food banks in the UK.
  • Our most recent figures for the number of emergency food supplies provided by our network: https://www.trusselltrust.org/news-and-blog/latest-stats/
  • You can read more about our work at trusselltrust.org

 

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Universal Credit Uncovered: 9 weeks that show we must end the wait

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A blog post by
Tom Say
Campaigns Manager

Over the past nine weeks we’ve been working with a wide range of charities and organisations on #UniversalCreditUncovered, shining a spotlight on the reality of living under Universal Credit.

The support and unity we have experienced has been nothing short of staggering.

We have seen thousands of people come together as part of #5WeeksTooLong campaign, along with more than 40 organisations and food banks across the UK, to say enough is enough.

We will not accept the five week wait – and often longer – for a first payment under the  new benefits system. The Government’s ‘Advance Payments’ are supposed to help people through those five weeks but these loans are not the solution as paying them back causes more hardship later on.

#UniversalCreditUncovered started as a reaction to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) launching newspaper advertorials to “myth-bust common inaccuracies” about Universal Credit. Front and back page ads appeared in the Metro newspaper, alongside features inside.

But as the weeks of the DWP ads wore on, the charity sector came together to ensure the voices of the thousands of people affected every day were heard.

People told us of the stress they have endured trying to keep their heads above water when they should have instead been anchored from poverty. We heard from people facing terminal illness, disabled people, homeless people, single mums and people with mental health issues. We heard how the wait has plunged people already on tight budgets, into debt and how so many had been driven to use food banks.

This is not right – but it can change.

Charities that have now called on the Government to end the five week wait as part of our #5WeeksTooLong campaign, include single parent charity Gingerbread, mental health charities Mind, homelessness charities like Centrepoint, housing associations like the Riverside Group.

More than 80 charities in the Disability Benefits Consortium, as well as Scope, MNDA Society and MS Society, have joined the campaign to talk about the impact on disabled people.

Women’s Aid, Refuge and the Women’s Budget Group have told us about how the wait affects domestic abuse survivors.

While debt charity StepChange explained why ‘advance payments’ lock people in debt and aren’t a solution to waiting for payments.

Of course our own network of food banks has also come together to highlight the issues people at food banks face.  As a result, we’ve seen countless news stories, opinion pieces and social media conversations about the five week wait. The cohesion we’ve seen and felt right across the sector has been phenomenal.

And it seems to be working. On Monday Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Jeremy Hunt vowed to scrap the five week wait if he becomes prime minister.

The Conservative leadership hopeful said Work and Pensions secretary Amber Rudd had “persuaded him” that change is needed to stop people falling into debt at the beginning of their swap to the new system.

This signifies that a shift could come soon, and shows the power and positivity of working together to create change. It has built the pressure needed if we are to see the long-term changes needed to help keep people afloat when they move onto Universal Credit.

But we cannot become complacent.

We must continue to hold the Government to account and ask them to listen to the many organisations and people that have joined #5WeeksTooLong. They must tackle the reasons why so many people waiting for Universal Credit are being forced to food banks.

Universal Credit is not the poverty-fighting benefit reform it was promised to be and we know the five-week wait for a first payment is one of the biggest issues people face when moving onto it.

This wait is five weeks too long – ending it must be the Government’s first priority. Agree? Join us.

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Welsh food banks fear busiest summer ever is ahead

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New figures released by the Trussell Trust reveal 14% increase in emergency food parcels for children in Wales last summer

The Trussell Trust is urging the public to donate food to their local food bank, as new figures show 4,137 food parcels went to children in Wales during the six weeks of the school summer holidays in 2018, a 14% increase on the same period in 2017.*

Over a third of all emergency food parcels distributed by Welsh food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network go to children, but there is extra financial pressure during the holiday period for families who are entitled to free school meals during term time.

The figures come against a backdrop of soaring food bank use in Wales. In 2018-19, food bank use escalated throughout the year in Wales with a 15% total increase**, and it is expected this trend will continue, prompting concerns that this summer will be the Trussell Trust network’s busiest to date. Ahead of schools breaking up next week, the Trussell Trust is urging people check what items their local food bank is most in need of.

While these donations are vital for helping families during the next six weeks, the charity has stressed food banks are not a long-term solution, and more must be done to ensure people have enough money for essentials like food.

The Trussell Trust believes tackling delays and gaps in benefits, which affect families’ ability to afford essentials, should be treated as a priority by the Government. The most immediate relief for thousands of people would be to end the five week wait for a first Universal Credit payment, a key driver of need at food banks in the charity’s network.

While the charity welcomes schemes by the Welsh Government to mitigate the adverse financial impact of the school holidays on families, it believes more action needs to be taken to address the underlying causes of poverty.

Susan Lloyd-Selby, Wales Operations Manager for the Trussell Trust, explains:

“Food banks do all they can to help families in Wales over the summer and many run holiday clubs to support parents who find that their income simply won’t stretch to meet the extra pressure of missing free school meals or paying for additional childcare. But no charity can replace the dignity of having enough money for the basics.

“Ultimately, we should all be protected from needing a food bank’s help, no matter the time of the year. Wales has the highest child poverty rates in the UK and if we are to end hunger in Wales, we need to make sure everyone is anchored from being swept into poverty. The Government needs to ensure benefit payments reflect the true cost of living and work is secure, paying the real Living Wage, which would help eliminate the need for a food bank parcel altogether.

“While it’s great to see the Welsh Government committing funding to tackle holiday hunger through their School Holiday Enrichment Programme, food provision cannot, and must not, be a long term solution to poverty.”

Ends

Contact:

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

Notes to Editor

There are 111 food bank centres in the Trussell Trust’s network in Wales.

The Trussell Trust’s #5WeeksTooLong campaign is calling for an end to the 5+ week wait for Universal Credit.

  • ‘Emergency food parcel’: three days’ emergency food for one person. These statistics are a measure of volume rather than unique individuals. Recent analysis shows on average people need around two food bank referrals in a year. More information about the way this data is gathered and what it can and can’t show here.

About the Trussell Trust:

  • We’re here to end the need for food banks in UK.
  • We support a UK-wide network of more than 1,200 food bank centres and together we provide emergency food and support to people locked in poverty, and campaign for change to end the need for food banks in the UK.
  • Our most recent figures for the number of emergency food supplies provided by our network: https://www.trusselltrust.org/news-and-blog/latest-stats/
  • You can read more about our work at trusselltrust.org

 

  Food parcels to adults and children for summer holidays 2017 Food parcels to adults and children for summer holidays 2018 % change 2017-2018
Wales Adults 6,199 7,300 17.8%
Children 3,634 4,137 13.8%
Total 9,833 11,437 16.3%

*Number of food parcels to adults and children for the school summer holidays in Wales (July 22 – August 31)

**Figures from Welsh food banks in the Trussell Trust network for 2018/19

Between 1st April 2018 and 31st March 2019, food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network in Wales provided 113,373 emergency supplies to people in crisis. 40,793 of these supplies went to children.

 

 

 

 

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UK food banks fear busiest summer ever is ahead

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New figures released by the Trussell Trust reveal 20% increase in emergency food parcels for children in the UK last summer

The Trussell Trust is urging the public to donate food to their local food bank, as new figures show 87,496 food parcels went to children in the UK during the summer holidays in 2018, a 20% increase on the same period in 2017.*

Over a third of all emergency food parcels distributed by food banks in the Trussell Trust’s UK-wide network go to children, but there is extra financial pressure during the holiday period for families who are entitled to free school meals during term time.

The figures come against a backdrop of soaring food bank use in UK. In 2018-19, food bank use escalated throughout the year with a 19% total increase**, and it is expected this trend will continue, prompting concerns that this summer will be the Trussell Trust network’s busiest to date.

Ahead of schools across England*** and Wales breaking up next week, the Trussell Trust is urging people check what items their local food bank is most in need of.

While these donations are vital for helping families during the next six weeks, the charity has stressed food banks are not a long-term solution, and more must be done to ensure people have enough money for essentials like food.

The Trussell Trust believes tackling delays and gaps in benefits, which affect families’ ability to afford essentials, should be treated as a priority by the Government. The most immediate relief for thousands of people would be to end the five week wait for a first Universal Credit payment, a key driver of need at food banks in the charity’s network.

The Trussell Trust’s chief executive Emma Revie said:

“Food banks will do all they can to help families over the summer, with many running holiday clubs to support parents who find that their income simply won’t stretch to meet the extra pressure of missing free school meals or paying for additional childcare during the holidays. But no charity can replace the dignity of having enough money for the basics.

“While it’s great to see schemes in place to tackle holiday hunger, food banks and other emergency food provision cannot, and must not, be a long term solution to poverty. Ultimately, we should all be protected from needing a food bank’s help, no matter the time of the year.

“If we are to end hunger in the UK, we need to make sure everyone is anchored from being swept into poverty. The Government needs to ensure benefit payments reflect the true cost of living and work is secure, paying the real Living Wage. Every family should have enough money coming in for a decent standard of living. No child should face going hungry in the UK.”

Ends

Contact:

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

Notes to Editor

The Trussell Trust’s #5WeeksTooLong campaign is calling for an end to the 5+ week wait for Universal Credit.

  • ‘Emergency food parcel’: three days’ emergency food for one person. These statistics are a measure of volume rather than unique individuals. Recent analysis shows on average people need around two food bank referrals in a year. More information about the way this data is gathered and what it can and can’t show here.

About the Trussell Trust:

  • We’re here to end the need for food banks in UK.
  • We support a UK-wide network of more than 1,200 food bank centres and together we provide emergency food and support to people locked in poverty, and campaign for change to end the need for food banks in the UK.
  • Our most recent figures for the number of emergency food supplies provided by our network: https://www.trusselltrust.org/news-and-blog/latest-stats/
  • You can read more about our work at trusselltrust.org

 

*Number of food parcels to adults and children for the summer holidays in the UK

 

Food parcels to adults and children for summer holidays 2017 (Jul 1 – Aug 31) Food parcels to adults and children for summer holidays 2018 (Jul 1 – Aug 31) % change 2017-2018

 

UK

Adults 128,918 151,700 17.7%
Children 73,226 87,496 19.5%
Total 202,144 239,196 18.3%

 

**Figures from food banks in the Trussell Trust network for 2018/19

 

  • Between 1st April 2018 and 31st March 2019, food banks in The Trussell Trust’s network provided 1,583,668 emergency supplies to people in crisis. 577,618 of these supplies went to children.
  • This is an 18.8% increase on the previous year, when 1,332,952 emergency supplies went to people in crisis; 484,026 of these went to children.

***Number of food parcels to adults and children for the 2018 school summer holidays in England (July 22 – August 31)

 

Region Adults Children Total Total % increase from 2017
South West 8,622 5,610 14,232 15.79%
South East 9,069 5,410 14,479 13.94%
North East 4,835 2,829 7,664 26.30%
North West 14,804 9,268 24,072 23.50%
London 10,682 6,166 16,848 25.88%
West Midlands 9,056 5,163 14,219 22.54%
East Midlands 4,726 2,832 7,558 12.02%
East 9,451 6,116 15,567 24.16%
Yorkshire & Humberside 6,091 3,753 9,844 14.49%

 

 

 

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Help people facing hunger in your community

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Asda stores across the UK are launching a week-long food drive today to help support their local food banks ahead of the school holidays.

Customers will be encouraged to donate much-needed supplies which will go to their local food banks, by donating items such as tinned goods and hygiene products in a trolley at the front of the store.

Every summer, food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network report an increase in demand for emergency food for children over the summer holidays due to the extra financial pressure put on families who rely on free school meals during term time. This high demand often causes many food banks to distribute more food than is donated, which leaves them short of food supplies.

Between April 2018 and March 2019, 1.6 million emergency food parcels were distributed which is a 19% rise year on year and it is expected that this trend will continue into the summer.

Andy Murray, Chief Customer Officer for Asda said:

“We already have permanent food collection points in store and encourage our customers to donate what they can, but over the next week we’re really trying to increase the number of donations as we go into the summer holidays, when food banks sadly see such an increase in demand from families.

“Our customers and colleagues are always very generous and I want to thank them for supporting our Asda Fight Hunger Create Change programme, which will make a difference in their local community, as well as on a larger scale as we continue to help people out of poverty.”

Emma Revie, CEO of the Trussell Trust said:

“No one should face going hungry at any time of year. Work is already underway as part of the Fight Hunger Create Change partnership to help us campaign for change and work towards a future where no one needs a food bank.

“While we work in the long term to tackle the structural issues that lock people in poverty, food banks in our network need your help this summer. Your generous donations will make such a difference at a time when food banks see a squeeze on the stock levels of food they have to offer people. The food you donate will help make sure families referred this summer receive vital support at exactly the time when it’s most needed.”

The drive is part of Asda’s Fight Hunger Create Change programme, a three-year, £20m partnership between the supermarket, anti-poverty charity the Trussell Trust, and food redistribution charity FareShare. The partnership will enable FareShare to double their capacity, meaning more food can reach those in need, while supporting the Trussell Trust to provide even more support to people referred to food banks and work towards a future without food banks through better research into the drivers of poverty.

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Guest blog: “Universal Credit has made me hit rock bottom”

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A blog post by
Jenny Luckett
Public Affairs Adviser Riverside housing association


“I am in so much debt with my family. I’m in arrears with my rent. Arrears with my council tax I feel I just can’t get straight with everything. Going on Universal Credit it has made me hit rock bottom

Susan* is just one of many of our tenants who have found themselves struggling and in debt when they applied for Universal Credit (UC).

Over the past three years, Riverside has conducted an in-depth survey with our tenants on UC to find out what their experiences have been like.

This year’s findings showed that for tenants claiming UC, the situation has got worse.

While Riverside is supportive of the simplicity that an integrated benefit like Universal Credit could bring, we are seriously concerned that the way it is being implemented means it is causing increased debt and arrears for our tenants.

Indeed, arrears for our tenants on UC are three and a half times higher than those in receipt of Housing Benefit or paying their own rent

Since moving onto UC, almost two thirds of our tenants surveyed (63%) have seen an increase in debt since moving on to Universal Credit and almost three-quarters (71%) said they find it more difficult to keep up with household bills.

In order to make ends meet, more than three-quarters (78%) said they have to rely on loans from family, friends or from a private loans provider.

Shockingly, two-fifths (41%) of our tenants have had to rely on foodbanks in order to feed themselves and their family after moving on to UC – this is 10% increase from last year.

Tenants also reported going without food, heating and showers in order to get by. Anne*, a tenant in her 40s, said “We don’t have enough money to support us so we are having to visit the food bank more regularly.

“[We are] having the odd meal at a friend’s house but we go days without eating or showering because I can’t afford to put enough gas on to last through; I’ve had to sell most of my things to try and get us by”

For over 80% of our tenants, the 5 week wait caused them financial hardship.

This is why Riverside is proud to back the Trussell Trust’s #5WeeksTooLong campaign – our tenants cannot wait 5 weeks for their first payment.

The DWP has said that the answer to the 5 week wait is to take up an advance and then repay this over 12 month period.

However, the repayments are taken at fixed rate so 40% of the Universal Credit standard allowance is deducted (though this will reduce to 30% from October, it still won’t take affordability into account).

We asked our tenants about advances and found there is a high take up with 77% of our tenants requesting one. But the advance repayment process is causing financial hardship for two-thirds of those who accepted an advance.

This leaves our tenants stuck between a rock and a hard place: if they accept the advance they face financial hardship because of the ongoing deductions from their UC but if they don’t take up an advance, many have no way of meeting their basic needs during the 5 week wait.

And it was clear that our tenants felt they had very little choice because most do not have savings that they can rely on – and whilst there is a minimum wait for 5 weeks for a payment, many waited much longer. Indeed, a third of those surveyed waited over 6 weeks and 13% waited over 8 weeks.

Mike* another of our tenants said: “I knew and accepted paying it [the advance] back but it only pushes you into hardship over a longer period. I do regret having advance payment but I had no other option.”

What’s the answer?

Riverside would like the Government to take three key steps.

Increased data sharing

Firstly, increase data sharing between housing associations, local authorities and DWP.

Informing housing associations when tenants are notified of their need to claim Universal Credit allows housing associations to plan in support for residents before, and during, the claim process which could help to alleviate the hardship caused by five week wait.

If housing associations only find out when they get a rent verification notice, it is often too late to help their tenants avoid getting into debt.

Extending Universal Support funding

Secondly, extend Universal Support funding to those social housing landlords who provide welfare advice and support services.

Housing associations know their residents well and are often best placed to support them. Providing this funding to housing associations could provide additional resilience to the Universal Support programme.

End the 5 week wait

Finally, and most crucially, listen to growing list of organisations putting their name to the #5WeeksTooLong campaign and end the 5 week wait immediately.

Until these changes are made, instead of acting as a safety net, Universal Credit will continue to drag people into debt and despair.

*names have been changed to protect identies

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Northern Ireland food banks fear for busiest summer ever

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New figures released by the Trussell Trust reveal 8% increase in emergency food parcels for children in Northern Ireland last summer

The Trussell Trust is urging the public to donate food to their local food bank, as new figures show 1,758 food parcels went to children in Northern Ireland during the two months of the school summer holidays in 2018, a 7.7% increase on the same period in 2017.*

Over a third of all food distributed by food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network in Northern Ireland goes to children, but there is extra financial pressure during the holiday period for families who are entitled to free school meals during term time.

The figures come against a backdrop of rising food bank use in Northern Ireland. In 2018-19, food bank use escalated throughout the year with a 13% total increase, prompting concerns that this summer will be the Trussell Trust network’s busiest to date. Ahead of schools breaking up this week, the Trussell Trust is urging people check what items their local food bank is most in need of.

While these donations are vital for helping families during the next two months, the charity has stressed food banks are not a long-term solution, and more must be done to ensure people have enough money for essentials like food.

The Trussell Trust believes tackling delays and gaps in benefits, which affect families’ ability to afford essentials, should be treated as a priority by the Government. The most immediate relief for thousands of people would be to end the five week wait for a first Universal Credit payment, a key driver of increased need at food banks in the charity’s network.

Dave Magill, Operations Manager for Northern Ireland at the Trussell Trust, explains:

“Food banks do all they can to help families in Northern Ireland over the summer and many run holiday clubs to support parents who find that their income simply won’t stretch to meet the extra pressure of missing free school meals or paying for extra childcare. But no charity can replace the dignity of having enough money for the basics.

“Ultimately, we should all be protected from needing a food bank’s help, no matter the time of the year. We know Northern Ireland is already on a cliff-edge with less than a year to go before we see the extra protections currently available to people under our benefits system come to an end. We have real concerns that unless these protections are preserved, families will continue to struggle not just during the school holidays but all year round.

“If we are to end hunger in Northern Ireland, we need to make sure everyone is anchored from being swept into poverty. The Government needs to ensure benefit payments reflect the true cost of living and work is secure, paying the real Living Wage, which would help eliminate the need for a food bank parcel altogether. Food banks cannot, and must not, be a long term to solution to hunger.”

Ends

Contact:

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

Notes to Editor

There are 38 food bank centres in the Trussell Trust’s network in Northern Ireland.

The Trussell Trust’s #5WeeksTooLong campaign is calling for an end to the 5+ week wait for Universal Credit.

  • ‘Emergency food parcel’: three days’ emergency food for one person. These statistics are a measure of volume rather than unique individuals. Recent analysis shows on average people need around two food bank referrals in a year. More information about the way this data is gathered and what it can and can’t show here.

About the Trussell Trust:

  • We’re here to end the need for food banks in the UK
  • We support a UK-wide network of more than 1,200 food bank centres and together we provide emergency food and support to people locked in poverty, and campaign for change to end the need for food banks in the UK.
  • Our most recent figures for the number of emergency food supplies provided by our network: https://www.trusselltrust.org/news-and-blog/latest-stats/
  • You can read more about our work at trusselltrust.org

 

Food parcels to adults and children for summer holidays 2017 Food parcels to adults and children for summer holidays 2018 % change 2017-2018
Northern Ireland Adults 2,524 2,743 8.7%
Children 1,632 1,758 7.7%
Total 4,156 4,501 8.3%

*Number of food parcels to adults and children for the summer holidays

 

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Scottish food banks fear busiest summer ever is ahead

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New figures released by the Trussell Trust reveal 21% increase in emergency food parcels for children in Scotland last summer

The Trussell Trust is urging the public to donate food to their local food bank, as new figures show 6,551 food parcels went to children in Scotland during the six weeks of the school summer holidays in 2018, a 21% increase on the same period in 2017.*

Over a third of all emergency food parcels distributed by Scottish food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network go to children, but there is extra financial pressure during the holiday period for families who are entitled to free school meals during term time.

The figures come against a backdrop of soaring food bank use in Scotland. In 2018-19, food bank use escalated throughout the year with a 23% total increase, and it is expected this trend will continue, prompting concerns that this summer will be the Trussell Trust network’s busiest to date. Ahead of schools breaking up this week, the Trussell Trust is urging people check what items their local food bank is most in need of.

While these donations are vital for helping families during the next six weeks, the charity has stressed food banks are not a long-term solution, and more must be done to ensure people have enough money for essentials like food.

The Trussell Trust believes tackling delays and gaps in benefits, which affect families’ ability to afford essentials, should be treated as a priority by the Government. The most immediate relief for thousands of people would be to end the five week wait for a first Universal Credit payment, a key driver of increased need at food banks in the charity’s network.

Laura Ferguson, Operations Manager for Scotland at the Trussell Trust, explains:

“No charity can replace the dignity of having enough money for the basics. But more and more families across Scotland are struggling to make ends meet, unable to afford food and facing hunger as a result. This isn’t right.

“Food banks do all they can to help families over the summer, with many running holiday clubs to support parents who find that their income simply won’t stretch to meet the extra pressure of missing free school meals or paying for extra childcare during the holidays.

“But ultimately, we should all be protected from needing a food bank’s help, no matter the time of the year. If we are to end hunger in Scotland, we need to make sure everyone is anchored from being swept into poverty. The Government needs to ensure benefit payments reflect the true cost of living and work is secure, paying the real Living Wage, which would help eliminate the need for a food bank parcel altogether.

“While it’s great to see the Scottish Government pledging to tackle holiday hunger, food banks and other emergency food provision cannot, and must not, be a long term to solution to poverty.”

Ends

Contact:

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

Notes to Editor

There are 135 food bank centres in the Trussell Trust’s network in Scotland.

The Trussell Trust’s #5WeeksTooLong campaign is calling for an end to the 5+ week wait for Universal Credit.

  • ‘Emergency food parcel’: three days’ emergency food for one person. These statistics are a measure of volume rather than unique individuals. Recent analysis shows on average people need around two food bank referrals in a year. More information about the way this data is gathered and what it can and can’t show here.

About the Trussell Trust:

  • We’re here to end the need for food banks in UK.
  • We support a UK-wide network of more than 1,200 food bank centres and together we provide emergency food and support to people locked in poverty, and campaign for change to end the need for food banks in the UK.
  • Our most recent figures for the number of emergency food supplies provided by our network: https://www.trusselltrust.org/news-and-blog/latest-stats/
  • You can read more about our work at trusselltrust.org

 

Food parcels to adults and children for summer holidays 2017 Food parcels to adults and children for summer holidays 2018 % change 2017-2018
Scotland Adults 12,066 14,204 17.7%
Children 5,412 6,551 21.0%
Total 17,478 20,755 18.7%

*Number of food parcels to adults and children for the summer holidays

 

 

 

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GUEST BLOG: “Universal Credit is creating nightmare situations for survivors of domestic abuse”

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Elaine is a welfare worker supporting survivors in a Women’s Aid member service. Women’s Aid supports the Trussell Trust’s #5WeeksTooLong campaign to end the wait for a first Universal Credit payment. 

For survivors of domestic abuse, life is inevitably balanced on a knife’s edge. In our service we constantly adjust the ways we work to ensure those we support are helped as much as possible.

We would be doing thousands of women and children a disservice if we did not make it absolutely clear how systemic changes and problems with those new systems can affect those we work with, already facing precariously dangerous and stressful situations.

In May, more than 120 MPs called for an independent inquiry into the way the family courts in England and Wales treat survivors of rape and domestic abuse and their children.

Prime Minister Theresa May responded by saying the family court system should never be used to coerce or to re-victimise those who have been abused.

Unfortunately, what we are witnessing are life threatening situations involving domestic abuse further exacerbated by issues with the Government’s new benefits system. The lengthy period of time between making a Universal Credit claim and receiving the benefit impacts not only on women’s ability to support themselves and their children, but also on the legal process they are often going through when escaping domestic abuse.

Most of our residents will need a solicitor through Legal Aid. Legal Aid is a means tested benefit, and applications to get it require a benefit award letter dated within the last four weeks. Let’s say a resident moves in to our refuge, we claim Universal Credit – and two weeks later she gets a letter from her abuser’s solicitor about child contact, with a court date in two weeks’ time.

As a claim for Universal Credit takes at least five weeks, we don’t yet have the required evidence for Legal Aid. The resident has to attend court with no representation. We support her, but we are not allowed to speak on her behalf. Due to the time that Legal Aid applications take to process, she may have to attend court without representation again, even after her claim goes through.

This creates a nightmare situation for survivors, who, having taken the terrifying step of escaping their abuser, are then expected to fight for their children’s safety alone in the family courts.

This is so scary for the women we work with – and it allows continued abuse by the perpetrator. Child contact is a common way for a perpetrator to continue to try and abuse and control women, and in these cases it is working for him. It has caused and is causing so much worry and concern, and it has a really detrimental impact on women’s recovery and mental health.

We have tried several different strategies to help those we are working with, but we are feeling increasingly disheartened that the system does not recognise the dangerous and distressing situations that survivors and their children are being put in.

We have tried requesting locally if judges and magistrates will allow Women’s Aid staff to talk on behalf of residents but we have been told no.

I have also contacted the local Universal Credit team at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to see if they will write a letter once Universal Credit has been awarded so we can use it to claim Legal Aid, rather than waiting weeks for the first statement, but have got nowhere with this as yet.

I have asked solicitors to work for free, but again hit a dead end. This is happening more and more due to everyone going over to Universal Credit and is not acceptable. As someone supporting victims I am starting to feel hopeless as all avenues I go down seem to be dead ends.

We have mums and children with us at the moment who are currently on the old benefits system. They will be moving out to suitable housing soon but they will have to claim Universal Credit due to their change in circumstances.

The problem we now have is families moving from our furnished refuge accommodation to an empty house with only Child Benefit as their income for five weeks as they wait for their first payment to come through. We will continue to support the family as best we can, but if they are on meters for utilities, if they need to use buses, how will they cope?

As we are working with the family we are able to intervene, but what if the family has no one, what do they do then?

In the short-term, DWP should replace advances with grants, at a minimum for those who are experiencing hardship. It should also be possible to obtain proof of a Universal Credit claim being made, that will be accepted in order to access Legal Aid. In the longer term, there are a number of options to bring forward the first Universal Credit payment, like backdating the first assessment period.

 

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The State of Hunger: can we end the need for food banks in the UK?

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A blog post by
Emma Revie
Chief Executive  

‘I was receiving one type of disability benefit and got on OK with that, but then I was told I had to apply for a new kind. I struggled to get the medical evidence I needed in time because I had a new doctor, and then it was decided I didn’t qualify – even though my condition itself hasn’t changed at all. I usually have to choose between buying food and having heating, but until I got my food bank voucher today I didn’t have either.’

This person should never have needed to come to a food bank. Getting the right support to someone changing disability benefits, long before they’re anywhere near needing a food bank, is absolutely within our power as a country.

In fact, getting the right support to anyone, long before they’re anywhere near needing a food bank, is absolutely within our power as a country.

(more…)

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