Emma Revie, Chief Executive of the Trussell Trust, said:
“This winter has been incredibly challenging for people on the lowest incomes, and for many it has deepened the hardship they have already been facing for some time. The Trussell Trust welcomes some of the significant interventions announced by the Chancellor today that will provide some additional support to people on the lowest incomes.
“The extension of the Energy Price Guarantee and the announcement of increased childcare support, particularly for people in receipt of Universal Credit, are welcomed. We know that childcare costs can be a major barrier for people wanting to work. The shift to paying childcare support in advance rather than in arrears will make a significant difference to many.
“We agree with the Chancellor that disability benefits need to be reformed to provide more effective support. It is vital that these reforms do not leave disabled people worse off. We ask the government to work closely with people who will be affected to make sure that the changes do not perpetuate the need for food banks.
“Steps to increase the use of sanctions give us cause for concern, as we know that sanctions can contribute to people needing to use food banks and can cause significant hardship for people in receipt of social security.
“We remain concerned that social security is not providing people with enough income to afford the essentials. This has been a huge factor in our network having to distribute more than 7,000 emergency food parcels a day this winter. Even after April’s uplift, the standard UC payment will still fall £35 short each week of covering the cost of essentials like food, heating and connectivity.
“That is why we are calling on the government in introduce an ‘essentials guarantee’ to make sure everyone who faces a setback and needs to rely on Universal Credit will always be able to afford the essentials – something that we know is supported by the UK public.”