Posts in '2022'

Five ways the cost of living crisis is impacting food banks

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The cost of living is leading to increased need and rising costs for food banks. Here are five ways that food banks are being impacted:

Increased need

The sharp rise in the cost of energy, food and other essentials, alongside the £20 cut to universal credit in October 2021, has meant that between April 2021 and March 2022, food banks in the Trussell Trust network provided more than 2.1 million parcels to people facing financial hardship.

This is the first time since the height of the pandemic that food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network have provided more than 2 million parcels.

As the cost of living continues to soar, food bank managers in our network are warning of an accelerated crisis across the UK, with more families being forced to the doors of food banks in need of emergency food.

One food bank manager commented: “The people who come in are telling me they’re scared. People are beside themselves about what the next six months will bring.”

Needing to purchase food

Our supporters continue to generously donate so our network can continue supporting people facing hardship, but these donations are not currently keeping pace with the increased need. This means that food banks are having to purchase food and other essentials to supplement what would usually be provided by donations. With the rising cost of food, this will place an increased financial toll on individual food banks.

“Due to the escalating need for emergency food parcels in our region, we have been spending up to £1,000 a week to buy food to make up for the shortfall in essential items for our food parcels. Whilst kind donations of food continue, in order to meet the increase in demand we will have to purchase even more and, with grocery prices spiralling, this is going to cost the food bank.” Lorraine Schulze, Project Manager Medway Foodbank

Find out how to donate to your local foodbank

Increased running costs

Food banks will also need to meet the rising costs of energy and fuel bills which keep warehouses, vehicles and distribution centres running.

“Our running costs to heat and light our warehouses and distribution centres have increased, along with fuel costs to run our vans used to deliver food parcels.” Kathleen Neilly, West Lothian Foodbank, General Manager

Need for cold food packs

As people feel the impact of the cost of living crisis and look to make savings, food banks are seeing an increase in need for ‘cold food packs.’ This is food that can be eaten without the need for high-energy and high-cost appliances.

“We are having more and more people come to us to say that although they have a cooker or fridge that they are not turning them on as they do not have the money for the meter and so are requesting items to eat that need no cooking at all.” Pete Criddle, Trustee and Volunteer Bradford North Foodbank

Extended opening hours

As everyone feels the squeeze of the cost of living crisis, more food banks are seeing an increase in people in work coming to their doors. Because of this, food banks are needing to change or extend their opening hours so people can pick up an emergency food parcel on their way to or from work.

“We have to open our food bank earlier in the day at 8am so working people can pick up their parcels on the way to work. Although we have a large proportion of people referred to us who are on benefits, we are seeing more and more people who are working, but whose wages have not increased in line with the rise in the cost of food, fuel and other items needed for a basic living standard.” Gill Fourie, Operational Manager Blackburn Foodbank

How you can help

Staff and volunteers at food banks are working tirelessly to support people in their communities as the price of essentials continues to soar and need for emergency food parcels and support increases. Donate to your local food bank now.

No-one should have to turn to a charity for something as essential as food. If people are to have enough money to live with dignity, we need our social security system strengthened so that it acts as an effective lifeline for whenever any of us need support.

If you agree everyone in our community should be able to afford life’s essentials, join our campaign which asks MPs to call for a stronger social security system that supports people every day, not just in times of national crisis.

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Forty percent of people claiming Universal Credit skipping meals to survive, new research from the Trussell Trust reveals

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  • One in five (21%) people were unable to cook hot food this summer as they couldn’t afford to use the cooker, while almost a quarter (23%) have been unable to travel to work or essential appointments because they couldn’t afford the cost of public transport or fuel, the charity says
  • The research finds almost two-thirds (64%) of Universal Credit claimants had to spend July’s first Cost of Living payment from government on food
  • This starkly shows the support package has not been enough to protect people from harm or tackle soaring bills, the charity warns, as it calls on new Prime Minister to urgently provide more support

The Trussell Trust has published new research highlighting the devastating impact the cost of living crisis is having on people forced to survive on the lowest incomes.

The charity is urging new Prime Minister Liz Truss to address soaring living costs, which are leading to more people using food banks, in the emergency budget expected on 21 September.

The research, a YouGov survey of 1,846 people in receipt of Universal Credit during August 2022, found more than two million* people had skipped meals across the previous three months to keep up with other essential costs.

Worryingly, 38% of people said they’d gone a whole day with no food at all or just one meal, in the last month, because they couldn’t afford to buy enough food.

Almost a quarter of people surveyed (23%) have been unable to travel to work or essential appointments, such as the doctors or the school run in the last three months, because they couldn’t afford public transport, or fuel, while a fifth (21%) of people said they didn’t cook hot food because they couldn’t afford to use the oven or other utilities.

This comes as the Trussell Trust revealed that food banks in its network provided 50% more parcels to people across the UK in recent months, compared to before the pandemic. This means a parcel provided to someone facing hardship every 13 seconds.

And while the charity welcomed the UK government’s £15bn support package announced in May aimed at helping people pay for essentials, it says these measures are no longer enough as the crisis has escalated. Despite the survey being conducted in mid-August, almost 70% of people surveyed who had received a cost of living payment, said they had already had to spend all of the £326 they received from the government in mid to late July, of which 64% of people had to use the money to buy food.  The next payment is due by 7th September but the pressure of rising energy prices and return to school costs mean that the £324 is unlikely to cover the necessary bills and even more people will need to turn to food banks.

The research shows that financial insecurity is a problem for millions of people, and that this number is growing, even before the imminent increase in energy costs.

More than a third (34%) of people surveyed said they have fallen into debt in the last three months because they couldn’t keep up with essential bills.

The Trussell Trust says it expects more and more people to be forced to access food banks unless the government takes immediate action to ensure the social security system provides people with enough support to afford the essentials.

The charity is standing with 70 other organisations to call for at least a doubling of the additional support offered to people on the lowest incomes.

It is also urging the government to take action in the emergency budget to address the worrying levels of hardship people are facing by rethinking the deductions that it takes from people’s benefits payments. Furthermore, the government should provide better, long-term funding for local crisis response, so local authorities can provide much needed support directly to communities. Only then will we be able to end the need for food banks in the future, the charity said.

Emma Revie, chief executive at the Trussell Trust, said:

“We are deeply concerned that 40% of people claiming Universal Credit are skipping meals, as winter approaches, and this is only going to get worse for people who already struggling to get by. It’s wrong that people are missing meals and are unable to afford to cook, because they are sick or disabled or caring for someone.  

“The reality is that, instead of providing a lifeline when our circumstances change, financial support such as Universal Credit is leaving people – 41% of whom are working – without enough income to stay warm, fed and dry. It’s pushing people to the doors of food banks, and that’s simply not right. If people are to have enough money to live with dignity, we need strong systems that lift us out of hardship rather than plunging us deeper into poverty. 

“The government must act now to protect people from harm. This means at least doubling the additional support offered to people on the lowest incomes and rethinking the deductions from the very payments that are meant to help them. If you agree everyone should be able to afford life’s essentials, join us in calling for a stronger social security system that provides security every day, not just in times of national crisis.”  

ENDS

Notes to editors:

  1. As part of a £15bn support package of measures announced in May, the government sent all households eligible for Universal Credit £326 to help due to energy price increases. This is the first of two payments. The second is due at some point from the autumn onwards.
  2. Forty-one percent of people claiming Universal Credit were in work in June 2022. Universal Credit statistics, 29 April 2013 to 14 July 2022, Department for Work and Pensions, https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/universal-credit-statistics-29-april-2013-to-14-july-2022
  3. The research is based on an online survey by YouGov of 1,846 adults (18+) currently claiming Universal Credit. All, figures unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Fieldwork was carried out online and was undertaken 10 – 31 August 2022. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults claiming Universal Credit.
  4. The Trussell Trust estimates that over two million people claiming Universal Credit skipped meals to keep up with other essential costs in the previous three months. This is based on a calculation by the Trussell Trust multiplying the following:
    1. Forty percent of people claiming Universal Credit said that in the last three months they had ‘needed to skip meals to keep up with other essential costs’.
    2. The total number of people in Great Britain claiming Universal Credit in July 2022 was 5,670,824. In Northern Ireland in February 2022 there were 132,090 people claiming Universal Credit. Figures from Stat-Xplore and the Department for Communities in Northern Ireland.
  5. All weighting data provided by the Trussell Trust from Stat-Xplore.
  6. Food parcel statistics relate to data collected by food banks in the Trussell Trust network. Data from food banks in the Trussell Trust network is collected via vouchers that are issued by referral agencies, such as health visitors, schools, social workers, and organisations such as Citizens Advice. In April and May of this year, food banks in the Trussell Trust network provided more than 420,000 emergency food parcels to people facing hardship. This was an increase of 50% in comparison to food parcels distributed in April and May 2019, the year prior to the pandemic.
  7. Other detailed information on question wording and results available from the Trussell Trust on request.
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Five reasons to share your experiences of food and cash support across the UK with the APPG inquiry

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By Georgia Kenington, Public Affairs Assistant at the Trussell Trust 

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Ending the Need for Food Banks is undertaking a landmark inquiry to explore the most effective and dignified solutions to tackle the growing need for food banks across the UK and needs to hear from people with experience, knowledge, or informed opinions on the issues that the inquiry is looking into.

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Food banks provide more than 2.1 million food parcels to people across the UK in past year, according to new figures released by the Trussell Trust 

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  • The charity says it’s witnessing an accelerating crisis across the UK as the need for emergency food dramatically increased in the past six months. This follows the £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit and the soaring rise in living costs that people are facing
  • More than 830,000 parcels were provided for children
  • This is set to get worse as the cost of living crisis continues, the charity warns, as it calls for the UK government to act now and help prevent hundreds of thousands more families being forced to the doors of food banks

New figures released today reveal food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network provided more than 2.1 million parcels to people facing financial hardship across the country, from 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022.

This represents a 14% increase compared to the same period in 2019/20 – before the pandemic –  as more and more people are unable to afford the absolute essentials that we all need to eat, stay warm, dry and clean.

This is the first time food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network have provided more than 2 million parcels, outside of 2020/21, at the height of the pandemic.

Alarmingly, more than 830,000 parcels were provided for children, representing a 15% increase from 2019/20 when 720,000 were provided.

The Trussell Trust says food banks in its network experienced their busiest winter outside of 2020 at the height of the pandemic, providing 1.2 million parcels in the second half of the year alone (from October to the end of March).

That is more parcels than were provided for the whole year of 2016/17, just five years ago.

Food bank managers are also now warning of an accelerating crisis across the UK following the cut to Universal Credit, as the cost of living continues to soar. Need for food banks in the Trussell Trust network has accelerated throughout the past six months:

  • July – September 2021 saw a 10% increase in comparison to the same period in 2019
  • October – December 2021 saw a 17% increase in comparison to the same period in 2019
  • January – February 2022 saw a 22% increase in comparison to the same period in 2020

As inflation continues to increase and rising bills are putting pressure on families across the country, the Trussell Trust says its network expects need for emergency food to rise further still, over the coming months and beyond. 2

One food bank manager said:

“The people who come in are telling me they’re scared. People are beside themselves about what the next six months will bring.”

Even though one in three people on Universal Credit are already skipping meals, the charity says the UK government is still choosing not to protect people already struggling to make ends meet.

The UK government has failed to create any security for people on the lowest incomes, allowing the value of social security to fall dramatically in real terms while prices rise, the charity warns.

In October the Chancellor removed £20 a week from low-income families across the country, the largest cut to welfare since the Second World War.

And in his Spring Statement he rejected calls for benefits to be brought in line with the current rate of inflation to better reflect the true cost of living, the charity highlights.

This is on top of a five-year freeze on benefits rates which means these payments are worth 11% less than they were a decade ago.

With the energy price cap rise just starting to bite, the charity says for most people at risk from financial hardship – who cannot work or work longer hours due to disability, caring responsibilities or mental health issues – there is very little protection ahead.

Food bank staff and volunteers will always do all they can to help people in their communities, they do this every day – but they cannot and should not be picking up the pieces of government inaction, particularly with a crisis of this scale.

Tim, 36, from London works in a high street shop and is also in receipt of Universal Credit. As the cost of living continues to soar, he’s worried about how he’s going to make ends meet.

Tim said: “I’m really worried about what the next few months could be like as the cost of living gets higher and higher. I’m trying to make the best out of the situation but have already had to use a food bank.

“I’ve also made the decision not to turn my heating on to save money and to go without certain types of food. For things to change, the government needs to increase the amount of social security payments so that everyone can afford to put food on the table.”

The Trussell Trust says there is still time for politicians to turn this situation around.

It says governments at all levels must use their powers and take urgent action now to strengthen our social security system so it keeps up with the true cost of living and helps prevent hundreds of thousands more families being forced through the doors of food banks.

For the UK government, that means as a first step increasing benefits payments by at least 7%, so more people are able to afford the essentials we all need in life to get by.

The charity says in the longer term, the government must introduce a commitment in the benefits system to ensure that everyone has enough money in their pockets to be prevented from falling into destitution – which means not being able to afford the essentials we all need to eat, stay warm and clean.

Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said: “People are telling us they’re skipping meals so they can feed their children. That they are turning off essential appliances so they can afford internet access for their kids to do their homework. 

“How can this be right in a society like ours? And yet food banks in our network tell us this is only set to get worse as their communities are pushed deeper into financial hardship. No one’s income should fall so dangerously low that they cannot afford to stay fed, warm and dry.

“There is still time for the UK government to do the right thing. We are calling on the UK government to bring benefits in line with the true cost of living.

“As an urgent first step benefits should be increased by at least 7%, keeping pace with increases in the cost of living. In the longer term, we need the government to introduce a commitment in the benefits system to ensure that everyone has enough money in their pockets to be prevented from falling into destitution.”

“By failing to make benefits payments realistic for the times we face, the government now risks turning the cost of living crisis into a national emergency.” 

ENDS

Notes to editors:

Number of emergency food parcels distributed by food banks in the Trussell Trust network in 2019/20 and 2021/22

1 April 2019 – 31 March 2020 1 April 2021 – 31 March 2022 Percentage change
To adults To children Total To adults To children Total To adults To children Total
United Kingdom 1,185,089 724,067 1,909,156 1,341,049 832,109 2,173,158 13% 15% 14%

 

  • In 2021/22 these parcels were distributed by 1,630 distribution centres operating in 293 local authorities across the UK.
  • Between October 2021 and the end of March 2022 food banks in the Trussell Trust network distributed 1,208,674 emergency food parcels – more than for the entirety of 2016/17 (1,201,286)
  • One in three people (33%) receiving Universal Credit had more than one day in the last month where they didn’t eat at all or had only one meal. This research is based on an online survey by YouGov of 1,506 UK adults (18+) currently claiming Universal Credit. People were surveyed between 24 January – 15 February 2022.
  • ‘Emergency food parcel’: this typically is a three-day parcel containing emergency food for one person. Since early 2020 crisis food banks have also been distributing seven-day parcels. For this release the Trussell Trust have simply combined both three-day and seven-day parcels together to report the total number of emergency food parcels that were distributed.
  • Need for emergency food is driven by a lack of income. The Trussell Trust’s State of Hunger research shows that 94% of people referred to food banks are destitute, meaning they don’t have enough income to buy the essentials that we all need. State of Hunger
  • Figures from the Trussell Trust network cannot be used to fully explain the scale of food bank use and wider food insecurity across the UK. The Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) has identified at least 1,172 independent food banks while there are also Salvation Army food banks as well as food banks run from schools and some universities and hospitals. There are also thousands of other food aid providers including soup kitchens and social supermarkets.

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 1,400 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/

 

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Six reasons we’re excited about our new partnership with Deliveroo

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By Penny Russell, New Partnerships Manager at the Trussell Trust

The food banks in our network gave out over 2.5 million emergency food parcels to people facing hardship last year. Nearly a million of these were given to children.  

Our new partnership with Deliveroo comes at the right time; as the cost of living continues to soar, the funds raised by the partnership will help the food banks in our network continue to provide the compassionate, practical support they do so well.  

 

How does the partnership help us work towards a future without the need for food banks? 

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Five Things You Should Know About Universal Credit

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By Anna Hughes, Policy Officer

The benefits system, Universal Credit, was introduced in 2013 with the intention to help people on the lowest income in the UK. As food and energy prices soar, it is now vital that Universal Credit is increased with the cost of living, to prevent more people from being pushed towards food banks.  

However in March, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, was widely criticised for failing to utilise Universal Credit in his response to the cost of living crisis in his Spring Statement. 

So, what exactly is Universal Credit? What are the problems with it? And what changes are we calling for the Chancellor to make to ensure the system gives people enough to afford the essentials?  

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The Trussell Trust responds to the Spring Statement

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Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said:

 

“Today the Chancellor has failed to create any security for people on the lowest incomes by failing to bring benefits payments in line with the true cost of living in the Spring Statement. This decision has created a real-terms cut to social security payments, which remain dangerously insufficient. 

 

“People are already making impossible decisions between heating and eating, and we know people are skipping meals, unable to afford to run cookers and fridges and taking on debt to buy the essentials. This is not right.

 

“This decision will mean many more people will have no option but to use a food bank. By failing to make benefits payments realistic for the times we face, the government is risking turning the cost of living crisis into an emergency. People cannot afford to wait another year for this to be reviewed. Action to rectify this situation and strengthen our social security system needs to happen immediately.”  

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