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The long read: an unprecedented year leads to record levels of need for food banks

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Our series of blogs deep-diving into what’s happening in food banks continues, as Research Manager Tom Weekes delves into today’s new statistics highlighting the record number of emergency food parcels distributed by our network in the last year

Over the last year food banks in the Trussell Trust network have been at the frontline of the national emergency caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. More people than ever have been tipped into financial crisis and a record six million people are currently receiving Universal Credit. Today’s figures from the Trussell Trust show just how precarious people’s finances have been.

In the last year, a record 2.5 million emergency food parcels were distributed to people in crisis by food banks in the Trussell Trust network. A 33% increase on the previous year and a devastating 128% increase on the same period five years ago (2015/16). Without the hard work and dedication of thousands of food bank volunteers and staff, at over a thousand locations across the UK, the impact of the pandemic on hundreds of thousands of people would have been even more severe.

However, at the Trussell Trust we know that the support provided by food banks can only do so much. We must tackle the underlying drivers of need for food banks. Core to the issue is a fundamental lack of income – 94% of people referred to food banks are destitute meaning their income is not sufficient to afford the absolute essentials. This cannot be solved by simply supporting people with emergency food.

Years of exponential growth in need for food banks, and the gradual erosion of financial security for people on the lowest incomes has been brought into stark focus in the last year. We cannot continue like this; this is why we are calling on all levels of government to act and develop a plan to end the need for food banks once and for all.

The last year shines a light on years of increases in need for food banks.

Our latest figures show that over 2.5 million emergency food parcels were distributed to people in crisis in the last year, with almost one million distributed to children. That is respectively a 33% and 36% on the previous year. However, food banks in the Trussell Trust network have long seen the impact of the building crisis of destitution across the UK. Before the pandemic food banks had reported a 75% increase in same period five years previously (2014/15 to 2019/20). This has now increased further with the most recent figures representing a 128% (total) and 135% (to children) on the same period five years ago.

Number of emergency food parcels distributed by food banks in the Trussell Trust network by financial year.



Pandemic hits some groups hardest.

Children and households with children have long been more likely to be supported by food banks than all adults and households without children. Last year was no exception, across 2020/21, despite making up just 20% of the UK population, 39% of parcels went to children aged 0-16. Over the last year the number of parcels distributed to children increased by 36% compared with a 32% increase to adults.

Younger people have been more at risk of needing support from a food bank in the last year than other age groups, which is consistent with the economic impact of the crisis, which has mainly been felt by younger working age people. Close to two in three (62%) of people referred to food banks in June or July were aged 25-44, up from 53% in early 2020, and significantly higher than the UK population (33%).

We also know that people with No Recourse to Public Funds visa conditions have struggled this year if they have lost employment, and therefore have no other financial support to draw on. The proportion of people born outside of Europe referred to foodbanks increased from 7% in early 2020 to 18% in the summer of 2020.

The support food banks in the Trussell Trust network provide is just the tip of the iceberg.

Many other organisations, community groups, and individuals have stepped up to support people during the crisis. Schools have previously provided food to pupils but the scale of this has drastically expanded in the last year. In February 2021 one in five (18%) teachers reported that their school had started a food bank.

Many new food banks have been established in the last year to meet the explosion in need. The Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN), which represents more than 500 independent food banks across the UK, has identified at least 1,034 independent food banks operating in the UK in addition to food banks in the Trussell Trust network and those run by the Salvation Army and schools. Their latest UK-wide data showed an 110% increase in need for emergency food parcels, when comparing February to November 2020 with the same period in 2019.

What will the next year look like?

As we look to the future there are reasons to be optimistic. The vaccine programme continues apace, and the unlocking of the economy will allow many people to get back to some normality in the coming months. We have seen communities rise to the challenges faced with compassion and care. It has also shown that governments can act decisively to make huge changes to the way we look after each other.

However, we know that there will be tough times ahead. Months of reduced pay have cut down  people’s savings to the bare bones putting them at risk of destitution, and unemployment is set to rise as the furlough scheme is wound down.

Despite a record number of people currently being supported, the short-term changes to the social security system that have protected so many over the last year, including the £20 uplift to Universal Credit that has acted as a lifeline to so many, are set to be withdrawn this autumn.

We cannot allow emergency food to become part of the fabric of our communities. When one person goes hungry, our whole society is weaker. It’s time to build a hunger free future – a more dignified and just society where everyone has enough money for the essentials. Now is the time for action.

All levels of government need to act – that’s why we’re calling on candidates standing in the upcoming May elections across England, Scotland, and Wales to commit to working to end the need for food banks and developing a plan to do so, if elected. The UK Government also need to set out a plan to end the need for food banks including ensuring that our social security system to work for all of those that need it in the coming year and beyond.

We are asking you, the public, to write to your local candidates standing for election on 6 May to ask them to make this pledge and stand for change. Together we can take action now to build a hunger free future.

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Record 2.5 million food parcels distributed last year

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Record 2.5 million emergency food parcels given to people across UK with just under 1m going to children – that’s two parcels every minute.

The Trussell Trust is urgently calling on all levels of government across the UK to commit to developing a plan to end the need for food banks once and for all.

Today, the Trussell Trust reports that food banks in its UK network gave more than 2.5 million emergency food parcels to people facing crisis between April 2020 and March 2021. More than 980,000 of these went to children– that’s almost two parcels on average every minute. Food banks in its network experienced a 33% increase in need during the past extraordinarily difficult year – with a 36% rise in parcels given for children compared with 2019/20. 

The charity warns that with need for emergency food increasing year-on-year, today’s figures highlight an alarming 128% rise compared to this time five years ago.It is also the first time the number of food parcels distributed has topped two million. 

Worryingly, these figures are just the tip of the iceberg with unprecedented numbers of people being helped by other food aid providers and community-based groups that sprang up to provide emergency food during the pandemic.  

Hunger in the UK isn’t about food, the charity says, it’s about people not having enough money for the basics and with high rates of unemployment and record redundancies, more people than ever need the social security system to provide a strong enough lifeline to stay afloat.  

The Trussell Trust is now urgently calling on all levels of government to act. It’s urging candidates standing in the upcoming May elections across England, Scotland, and Wales to commit to working to end the need for food banks and developing a plan to do so, if elected. 

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

No one should face the indignity of needing emergency foodYet our network of food banks has given out record numbers of food parcels as more and more people struggle without enough money for the essentials. This is not right but we know we can build a better future. This pandemic has shown the unexpected can hit suddenly, but we know when we push for change, united by our desire for justice and compassion, the government has to listen and act.  

We are asking you, the public, to write to your local candidates standing for election on 6 May, asking them to commit to working to end the need for food banks if elected. Together we can take action now to build a hunger free future. 

Sabine Goodwin, coordinator of the Independent Food Aid Network, said: 

“Independent food banks are also continuing to see relentless need for help although combined Trussell Trust and independent food bank figures represent a fraction of the UK’s food insecurity picture. Now more than ever, our social security system needs to be reset, local authority support schemes involving crisis grants prioritised and adequate wages and secure work ensured.  

It’s the Government’s responsibility to stop hunger from happening in the first place so that everyone is able to afford to buy food and other essentials.” 

The Trussell Trust is asking the public to encourage candidates to make this pledge and stand for change here.  



Contact the Trussell Trust for more information on 020 3137 3699 or [email protected]     


Notes to editors   

Number of emergency food parcels distributed by food banks in the Trussell Trust network in 2019/20 and 2020/21 

  1st April 2019 – 31st March 2020  1st April 2020 – 31st March 2021  Percentage change 
  To adults  To children  Total  To adults  To children  Total  To adults  To children  Total 
United Kingdom  1,183,672  722,953  1,906,625  1,557,116  980,082  2,537,198  32%  36%  33% 


  • In 2020/21 these parcels were distributed by 1,471 distribution centres operating in 295 local authorities across the UK 
  • The increases seen in the last year are on top of what were record levels of need in the previous year – with 1.9 million parcels distributed for the first time in 2019/20. 
  • Across 2020/21 food banks in the Trussell Trust network distributed, on average, almost two (1.86) parcels to children every minute.  
  • Across 2015/16 food banks in the Trussell Trust network distributed 1,112,395 emergency food parcels. In 2020/21 they distributed 2,537,198; a 128% increase on 2015/16.  
  • ‘Emergency food parcel’: this typically is a three-day parcel containing emergency food for one person. During the 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 across the UK. Research from the Independent Food Aid Network shows there are at least 1,034 independent food banks, with many other organisations also distributing emergency food during the pandemic. 
  • For November 2020 to January 2021 the unemployment rate for those aged 16+ was 5%, up from 3.9% in the previous year. Labour Market Overview 
  • Redundancies have reached record levels during the pandemic and increased by a historic 181,000 between Q2 2020 and Q3 2020, a 138% increaseLabour Market Overview 


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 1,300 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 here.
  • The Trussell Trust’s food bank network brings together volunteers, staff and supporters of all faiths and none to make a difference. Local churches play a vital part in this work, with around 12,000 churches actively involved in donating food, and providing venues, volunteers and financial support for food banks.    
  • You can read more about our work at    



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We’re calling on all Holyrood candidates to create change

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On 6 May, voters in Scotland will elect new Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) for their communities and a new government for Scotland. While ongoing Covid-19 restrictions mean fewer of us will have had aspiring MSPs chapping our doors or leaflets thrown into our hands on the high street, these elections are an important turning point for Scotland.

While the constitution remains top of the political agenda for many, it is a sobering fact that levels of poverty in Scotland are stubbornly high. Right now in Scotland, one in four children are growing up in poverty and we know that, since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, more people than ever have experienced destitution, unable to afford the essentials that we all need to eat, stay warm and dry, and keep clean. We also know that poverty is not inevitable. We can change this.

As Scotland comes out of lockdown, we can do things differently. We have the chance to build a better, brighter future for our communities – one where people are not forced to seek emergency food and where everyone can afford the basics.

So, these elections really do matter. They are an invaluable opportunity to shape the priorities of our future MSPs and to persuade our new government to act to end the need for food banks in Scotland.

Every single one of the 129 new MSPs elected to the Scottish Parliament can use their power and influence to deliver the changes we need to work towards a hunger free future. Our job is to make sure that happens, to ensure this is their top priority.

That is why in these elections, we are calling on all Holyrood candidates to commit to working to end the need for food banks if they are elected and for the newly elected Scottish Government to develop an action plan in the first year of the new parliament to make this happen. We need a plan for change that:

  1. Ensures everyone can afford the basics: People are forced to charities for emergency food when there isn’t enough money for the essentials. MSPs should support a cash-first approach to increase household incomes instead of relying on the distribution of emergency food. This means using the powers of the Scottish Parliament to improve the sufficiency, accessibility, and responsiveness of benefits, in particular the Scottish Welfare Fund, as well as reduce the prevalence of insecure work.
  2. Helps local services work together to ensure people get the right support at the right time: MSPs should commit to ensuring that there is a robust network of local support that prevents a short-term crisis becoming long-term hardship, helping local services work together to provide support which maximises incomes, where food banks become the last resort.
  3. Involves people with direct experience of poverty and local food banks in shaping an action plan to end the need for food banks: MSPs should work with people with direct experience of poverty in their community and work with food banks on how to deliver an ‘exit plan’ for ending the need for emergency food.

We are grateful to everyone who has pledged support for our campaign already, but we still have more to do. And that is why we are asking for your help to contact local candidates and ask them ask them to pledgeto work to end the need for food banks. 

It will only take a couple of minutes but with your support, we can ensure that ending the need for food banks in Scotland is top of the agenda for those lucky enough to be elected to the Scottish Parliament next month. Ask your future MSPs to make the pledge now 

If you have slightly more time and live in the Glasgow area, why not sign up to attend the Glasgow Southside Food bank Hustings on 29 April? Hosted by Glasgow SE and SW food banks, this is your chance to hear directly from Nicola Sturgeon (SNP leader and First Minister of Scotland), Anas Sarwar (Scottish Labour leaderand representatives of the Scottish Liberal Democrats and Scottish Conservatives, about how they will end poverty in Scotland. You can sign up for the election hustings (and submit a question) here  

And finally, if you haven’t already done so, you can make a difference by joining our campaign for a hunger free future 

Together, we can make change happen and end the need for food banks in Scotland. 

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The 2021 elections are a vital opportunity

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By Rory Weal, Policy & Public Affairs Manager

‘The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry,’ so they say. Beyond the immediate heartache and suffering caused by the pandemic, it’s also been a year filled with missed family visits, cancelled holidays, and all manner of plans left in tatters.

In these circumstances, you might be forgiven for missing that several important elections were also postponed last year and will now be taking place on 6 May 2021.

These elections matter – their outcomes will help to determine how we build a better future as we look to recover from the pandemic. Crucially, they could help provide a turning point to build a future where we can end the need for food banks.

The stakes are high, and they impact so many of us in different ways. All in all, about 48 million people will be able to vote to elect almost 5,000 to positions of power across Great Britain on 6 May.

The bumper crop of elections taking place on this day include those for the Scottish Parliament and the Senedd in Wales, hugely important elections which will determine the next governments for the two nations for the next four years, with responsibilities covering the likes of health, housing, and education. These are joined by the delayed elections for local authorities across England, as well as for mayors in cities such as London and Greater Manchester.

These elections will have huge consequences for how we all live our lives, and for the services and financial support available for people on the lowest incomes. What’s more, they offer a vital opportunity to win support for measures which will end the need for food banks, and create a society where everyone can afford the essentials.

This matter has never been more urgent or pressing. Since the pandemic hit, more people than ever have been pushed into destitution, unable to afford the essentials that we all need to survive. This has led to unprecedented numbers of people needing emergency food. However, these problems are not new. The Covid-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on and accelerated many of the issues that communities were already facing. There has been a 71% increase in emergency food parcels provided by the Trussell Trust’s food bank network between 2015/16 and 2019/20. This isn’t right.

From their local community to their nation, each elected representative has the opportunity to use their power and influence to deliver the changes we need to work towards a hunger free future. That is why in these elections we’re calling on all candidates to commit to working to end the need for food banks if they are elected, and for newly elected governments, local authorities, and mayors to develop a plan to do so by:

  • Ensuring everyone can afford the basics.
  • Helping local services work together to ensure people get the right support at the right time.
  • Involving people with direct experience of poverty and local food banks.

It’s quick and easy to contact local candidates – will you ask them to pledge to working to end the need for food banks?

We stand at a crossroads at these elections – do we accept ever-rising levels of destitution and emergency food as an appropriate response to this need? Or do we take this opportunity to ensure all our elected representatives do everything in their power to create a hunger free future, where everyone can afford the essentials?

That is the choice our politicians will have to make over the coming months. But we can all play our part in campaigning for those elected to make this top of their in-tray from Day 1 of their new job. Ask them to make the pledge now.

And you can also make a difference by joining our campaign for a hunger free future. Together, we can make change happen.

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Together for change with the church community

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Food banks offer vital support to people across the country, and churches play a crucial part in this work, generously providing venues, volunteers, leadership, donations, and more. We’re so grateful to the church community for all that they do to help people in crisis and build a better future, where no one needs to turn to a food bank to get by.

That’s why, as we come together to build a hunger free future, we’re hosting a series of online Big Church Leaders’ Breakfasts, not only to say thank you to church leaders but also to share our vision for a UK without the need for food banks. Whether your church is already involved or you’re just keen to learn more about our work, this event has something for everyone.

There’ll be an opportunity to hear from Emma Revie, our Chief Executive, time for prayer and reflection, networking, a live Q&A, and input from church leaders and food bank teams.

We’re holding events for England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland in April and June this year, and we’re excited to talk about our vision and what we can achieve together.

Want to know more and register for your free place? Click here now.

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How Covid-19 has affected the way we think about benefits

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As part of our Hunger Free Future campaign, we polled 2,000 people to find out how they feel about claiming benefits – and revealed that the pandemic has had a real impact on our views, suggesting that ‘benefits’ no longer carries the negative connotations it once might have done.

More than 40% of people said that before the pandemic, they would have felt – or did feel – embarrassed by the thought of claiming benefits. But with so many of us struggling financially in the wake of Covid-19, with businesses folding, redundances, and workers being furloughed, that perception has shifted. Now, just 35% of people feel that way.

“We have a unique opportunity to challenge the norm. The last 12 months have been hard for everyone – with many finding themselves weaker financially. But perhaps the universal impact of the pandemic has shown how the unexpected can hit any of us, and how much we need change.”

The Trussell Trust

And the poll also showed that more than 70% of people agreed it’s not right that anyone in a country as rich as the UK should need to use a charity for food. It’s time for change. The last year has been challenging – but 38% of people think the nation will be a more compassionate place a year from now. It’s time to harness that sense of care and community that has been so important to all of us throughout the pandemic and create long-term change.

Together, we can create a future where everyone can afford the basics – a more just, more compassionate society, where no one needs to turn to charity to get by.

Want to get involved in our movement for positive change? Join us now.

Or to read more about the poll, check out the London Economicthe Daily Starthe Mirror, or the Sun.

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Scale of food insecurity demands long-term plan to end the need for food banks

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By Tom Weekes, Research Manager

Scale of food insecurity demands long term plan to end the need for food banks.

Figures released today by the Food Standards Agency[i] (FSA) highlight the millions of people experiencing severe food insecurity during the pandemic. Food banks in the Trussell Trust network have seen this crisis first-hand, with the first six months of the pandemic being the network’s busiest ever.[ii]

Levels of food insecurity and need for food banks can be directly linked to the economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the first six months of the pandemic the number of people receiving unemployment benefits doubled.[iii] Unfortunately, we know too well that the design of the social security system often puts claimants at risk of food insecurity.[iv]

There is a very real risk that as the support provided by the UK government during this period is wound down, we will see a further rise in food insecurity and need for food banks. These measures have been essential in both mitigating the worst impacts of the pandemic and reversing years of inaction on the level of social security.

Along with our partners, we are urgently calling for the Chancellor to extend the uplift to Universal Credit by 12 months at the very least, preventing people up and down the country from being swept into poverty in the wake of the pandemic. As we move beyond the pandemic we are asking governments at all levels to commit to developing a plan to end the need for food banks.

Government statistics show scale of food insecurity during pandemic.

Today the FSA released their Food and You report, which collected information about people’s eating habits, across July and October 2020. This includes a measurement of food security which is defined as:

‘all people always having access to enough food for a healthy and active lifestyle’.

They found that 16% of adults across England, Wales and Northern Ireland were food insecure. Over one in twenty (7%) classified were severely food insecure. Using these figures, we can estimate that almost 8 million adults aged 16 and over were food insecure in these areas during this period, and almost 3.5 million were severely food insecure.

As an indication of the change in need, data collected in 2018 showed levels of food insecurity at 10%.[v] Due to a change in methodology these figures are not directly comparable to equivalent figures collected pre-pandemic.

People claiming social security not protected from food insecurity.

Over half (54%) of people just receiving income from social security are classified as food insecure,  with one in three (31%) classified as severely food insecure. These figures are respectively over three times, and over four times higher than the average.

Clearly the design of the social security system does not provide people the support they need to purchase life’s essentials. Food banks in our network see the consequences of this every day, with the majority of people needing support from a food bank last summer receiving social security (83%).

People with health problems far more likely  experience food insecurity

Our existing work shows that both physical and mental health problems are linked to needing support from a food bank. The data released today shows that people in bad or very bad health are more than twice as likely to be experiencing food insecurity (40% vs. 16%) and nearly four times more likely to be experiencing severe food insecurity (27% vs. 7%) than the average.

Families with children more at risk of food insecurity

During the pandemic, food banks in our network have seen a significant increase in the number of parcels that have been distributed to children. The figures released today show that families with children are twice as likely to be food insecure (23% vs. 12%) than households with no children. Similarly, they are more than twice as likely to be severely food insecure (11% vs. 5%).

People identifying as Black or Black British more likely to experience food insecurity.

Multiple reports show that the brunt of the economic and health consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic have not been distributed evenly across society, strengthening existing socioeconomic inequalities. This report underpins these findings.

People identifying as Black or Black British are almost twice as likely (27% vs. 14%) to be reported to be experiencing food insecurity, than people identifying as white. People identifying as of mixed ethnicity are similarly more likely to be classified as food insecure (28% vs. 14%).

These figures cannot be ignored, governments at all levels must take note and commit to developing a plan to end the need for food banks.

It’s time to build a better future together, taking action to create a stronger, more just society where everyone can afford the basics. That’s why we’re urging the public to join our Hunger Free Future movement to help create a UK without the need for food banks once and for all.



[i] Food and You 2 – Wave 1, (2021), Food Standard Agency,

[ii] Mid-year stats, (2020), The Trussell Trust,

[iii] Claimant Count, (2021), ONS,

[iv] State of Hunger, (2019), The Trussell Trust,

[v] Food and You 1 – Wave 5, (2019), Food Standard Agency,

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The Universal Credit uplift must remain in place

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By Emily Spoor, Research Officer

This week, new benefit statistics show the huge scale of the economic impact of the pandemic. Almost 6 million people are now receiving Universal Credit (UC), up from 2.7 million in January last year and 3 million at the start of the pandemic. This doubling means that around one in seven working-age adults in Great Britain are now receiving support from UC.

New figures also show that in November there were 4.9 million households receiving UC – an increase of more than 80% since the start of the pandemic. The majority of the increase, around 1.4 million of the 2.2 million additional households, are single people with no children. We know that this group is more likely to need support from food banks. Many will be younger adults whose employment has been disproportionately impacted by the lockdown – the unemployment rate for 16-24 year olds has increased by 3.1 percentage points in the last year, compared to just 1.3 percentage points for the overall population.[1]

However, the number of families with children receiving support from UC has still seen an increase of more than 50%, with more than 1.8 million now receiving UC.

During the pandemic, most of these households have been supported by an additional £20 a week to their benefits. By all accounts this uplift has been essential in preventing many people from experiencing poverty during the crisis – although policies like the benefit cap mean not everyone on UC has received the full uplift amount, and people receiving legacy benefits have been left out.

Our research showed that 72% of people receiving UC since early 2020 found the uplift made it easier for them to afford essentials than before. Cutting it would therefore put many at risk of having to go without the basics: 14% of people receiving UC thought it was very likely they’d need to use a food bank following the cut to UC, equating to more than a million people. This would clearly be unacceptable. The government must ensure that the social security provides people with enough income to be able to afford the essentials that we all need.

Further, we know that the economic impact of the pandemic has only just begun to be felt. Nearly a year into the pandemic in the UK the numbers of people on UC continue to climb – and with the furlough scheme rightly still in place to support jobs, we can expect that many of the job losses that result from the pandemic are still to come. In November, the OBR forecasts that unemployment will peak in mid-2021 and only return to pre-pandemic levels in around 4 years’ time.[2]

This context makes clear that the uplift must be maintained in the long term – and extended to people on legacy benefits who have missed out on the uplift. Some have suggested a short, six-month extension to the uplift, but this would mean cutting UC as unemployment peaks and forcing many more to make it through this economic crisis unable to reliably afford to eat, heat their home and pay their rent.

The uplift has been a huge relief for millions of people since April – it must stay in place to support them and the many more who are likely to need our safety net in the coming year.

[1] Office of National Statistics, Employment in the UK: February 2021

[2] Office for Budget Responsibility, Economic and fiscal outlook – November 2020

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Support from Papa John’s reaches £500,000

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In April 2020, we launched a new partnership with Papa John’s and we’re thrilled to announce that their support has now raised an incredible £500,000.

By fundraising on their website for us throughout 2020, Papa John’s have been able to help us make sure food banks can continue to provide emergency support in their communities, as well as work towards building a better future – one where no one need to turn to charity to get by.

At Christmas, Papa John’s ran a stripped back advertising campaign and donated the extra money they would normally have spent on festive creative to us and Crisis. They also donated 50p for every festive meal deal sold, featured customer donation buttons at checkout, and provided dedicated advertising space on their website.

Thanks to the support of customers, the money raised during the Christmas campaign helped to bring the total amount generated through Papa John’s support for the Trussell Trust up to over £500,000!

Head of Corporate Partnerships, Sophie Carre, says:

“Our partnership with Papa John’s and their incredible support means we can continue to respond to the changing situation and ensure food banks continue to provide the lifeline of emergency food and additional support for thousands of people in crisis. It also allows us to move forward with our work to tackle the root causes of poverty and campaign for long-term change. Our goal is ambitious, and this support means we can work together for real, long-term change to create a better future.”

And Papa John’s say:

We have been really pleased with the amount we have been able to raise with the help and support of our generous customers. The Trussell Trust is a fantastic charity who we are proud to work with.

It’s time to build a better future, and we’re so grateful to have partners like Papa John’s standing alongside us and people facing hunger to create change. We look forward to seeing what the partnership brings in 2021!


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The real impact of removing the Universal Credit uplift

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“I simply don’t know how I’d manage without it” – people share their experiences of the £20 uplift and the risks of taking it away.

By Emily Spoor, Research Officer


In April 2020, as the UK was hit by the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK Government made the crucial step of increasing the Universal Credit Standard Allowance and Working Tax Credit by £20 per week – worth more than £1,000 a year to a household. This decision has offered people dignity during the crisis and prevented tens of thousands from needing to seek help to feed themselves and their family.

Our new research, conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Trussell Trust, shows that the uplift has provided vital breathing space to hard-pressed budgets, with seven in ten (72%) people on Universal Credit since early 2020 saying the increase has made it easier to afford essentials. The risks of removing the uplift are also clear, as one in five people we surveyed think it’s very likely they’ll need support from a food bank if the removal goes ahead as planned.

Here, we explore people’s experiences of the uplift in their own words, as well as their thoughts and fears about a future without it.


The uplift means people don’t have to go without essentials.

The most common experience people shared with us was that the uplift allowed them to reliably afford basics, without, for example, having to go without food or ration the amount of time the heating was on. Having to go without essentials had been a common experience for people before the uplift.

“[The uplift] has made it possible to survive. Without it I could not afford heating or electricity.”

“I am a teacher and a single parent… The increase has meant that I can get food for the 4th week in a month.”

Several people explained that the increase meant they no longer needed to make impossible choices about what to go without, such as between eating enough and staying warm, or cutting down on food to afford a crucial, less frequent, purchase like shoes or a coat.

“An additional £80 a month is… the difference between being able to eat and having to choose between heating and food.”

 “I haven’t had to choose between buying some food or a new pair of shoes because mine have got a hole in… I’ve been able to buy both!”


The uplift provides financial and mental breathing space, giving a route out of day-to-day survival and hope for the future.

Many people explained that the uplift allowed them to reduce – or even end – the need to rely on debt to cover daily costs. This has a practical and a mental health benefit, as debt repayments and overdraft costs further reduce the amount available to spend on essentials in the future and the feeling of spiralling can cause intense stress and anxiety.

“It’s made a difference in paying bills. I fell in arrears with a few utilities and it’s helping me get back on track.”

“[The uplift has made] a big difference. It meant my payment was bigger than my overdraft limit, so it would definitely get paid off every month.”

Another common experience of the uplift that people shared was the positive impact on their mental and physical health. From a parent being able to afford fresh food for their children to a cancer patient being able to keep the heating on, it was clear the uplift gave people the option of looking after their and their families’ physical health rather than being forced to settle for less.

“[The uplift] has enabled me to eat better. Before the increase I wasn’t able to buy fresh fruit and vegetables, because they were an extra I just could not afford.”

Improved mental health was also mentioned by many: both the absence of negative factors such as stress and anxiety, and actively positive changes such as increased self-worth. People told us that, as the uplift made it easier for people to afford all their essentials, their stress about what they might have to cut back on and how they’d manage to make ends meet was reduced.

“Less stress, money to pay for petrol, better food, less yellow tab food… better mental health, better physical health.”

“It makes me less stressed about the months end when I have to pay for the rent and all the bills. Every little extra helps.”

Several people explained that being able to afford to “contribute” by looking after their family was also hugely beneficial for their mental health. One person was able to save up and buy their family some Christmas presents, while another had been able to pay a monthly amount for a laptop for their son, allowing him to do his schoolwork properly from home.

 “[The uplift has made] an absolutely massive amount of difference both financially and mentally. I’ve been able to contribute more to the household, making me feel more comfortable and worthy of living.”


Without the uplift, people will be forced to go without essentials again and find it harder to get back on their feet.

Since these positive impacts have come as a direct result of the £20 uplift, it’s unsurprising that when asked about its removal people told us these improvements to their lives would be reversed. Many people told us that without the uplift they’d be forced into debt to cover the cost of essentials or would be forced to go without again. This is unacceptable – no one should have to go without food, heating or other basics because their benefit income is too low.

“I already have to make choices about what to spend my money [on] and am juggling debts, fuel costs and buying food and essentials. With a retraction of the extra £20, I know I would face hardship, in keeping warm, feeding myself and paying off my credit card (which I used for car repairs)”

Fear and hopelessness about a future of having to manage on less were also common experiences. The prospect of hunger and cold and mounting debts, and fears about eviction or being unable to look after family members, meant the future looked bleak for many.

“Even the thought of my losing this £20 a week brings me close to tears.”

Several people explained that losing the uplift would knock them back, making it harder for them to find work or be financially independent from family. These things contributed to a feeling of hopelessness – it was difficult to see how things might improve for them without the small amount of breathing space the uplift had provided.

“[Losing the uplift would mean] complete loss of all independence and dignity as I’d be dependent on my brother for financial help. It’s humiliating… I will steadily slip further into debt.”

“I’ve been saving for new “work” shoes that are going to last. The retraction of £20 per week would mean I’d have to use that small amount of savings for essentials and continue not applying to jobs that need proper equipment.”


The government must continue to protect the millions of people who receive Universal Credit – and the many more who’ll depend on it as the economic consequences of the pandemic play out.

It’s clear that the level of benefits was not adequate going into the pandemic, and that the uplift has been an important lifeline. People’s experiences clearly show that keeping the Universal Credit uplift and extending this lifeline to legacy benefits is the right thing to do – and would help us take a big step towards a hunger free future.


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