Posts in 'News'

Caught between a rock and a hard place: why advance payments are not the solution to the five week wait

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A blog post by
Abby Jitendra
Policy & Research Manager


 

Unaffordable DWP loans are not the answer to the five week wait

Would you be able to go five weeks without any money?

When you apply for Universal Credit, that’s the minimum amount of time you have to wait for your first payment.

We put out our year-end food bank figures last week showing that a record 1.6 million food parcels had been given out by our network last year, a 19% increase on the year before. Universal Credit now accounts for half of all referrals to food banks due to benefits delays, and waiting for Universal Credit is a growing trigger forcing people to food banks.

While you wait, you can apply for an ‘advance payment’ – that’s a loan from the Government to see you through that five week period. Once your Universal Credit payments start, you pay that loan back automatically through deductions from your monthly payments.

(more…)

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Record 1.6m food bank parcels given to people in past year as the Trussell Trust calls for end to Universal Credit five week wait

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Number of food parcels given out across UK soars 73% in five years*

New data released today shows April 2018 to March 2019 to be the busiest year for food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network since the charity opened. During the past year, 1,583,668 three-day emergency food supplies were given to people in crisis in the UK; More than half a million of these (577,618) went to children. This is an 18.8% increase on the previous year.

The main reasons for people needing emergency food are benefits consistently not covering the cost of living (33%), and delays or changes to benefits being paid.**

Universal Credit is not the only benefit payment people referred to food banks have experienced problems with, but issues with moving onto the new system are a key driver of increasing need. Almost half (49%) of food bank referrals made due to a delay in benefits being paid in UK were linked to Universal Credit.***

(more…)

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Stem the rising tide in food bank referrals – end the five week wait

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A blog post by
Ellie Thompson
Policy & Research Co-ordinator

The benefits system was designed to act as a safety net, providing support for any of us if we need it. But the Government’s new welfare reform, Universal Credit, pulls people into poverty, rather than helping them out of it.

In areas where Universal Credit has gone live for a year or more, food banks have seen a 52% average increase in food bank use compared to 13% in areas that have not. Increasingly we are seeing Universal Credit payment delays as a key driver of food bank referrals. Even Amber Rudd, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, acknowledges that the delay in Universal Credit payments has led to a rise in referrals to food banks.

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The Trussell Trust responds to the Spring Statement

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Responding to today’s Spring Statement from the Chancellor, the Trussell Trust’s chief executive Emma Revie says,

“We’re disappointed by today’s Spring Statement, which does not end austerity as promised. The Chancellor has missed a real opportunity to do the right thing and give people on the lowest incomes financial support and certainty before Brexit.

“Our benefits system was created to make sure proper support would be in place for each other when help was most needed. But right now, more and more people across Britain are struggling to make ends meet, unable to afford food and facing hunger as a result. This isn’t right.

“We have seen a record demand in food bank use – our network gave out 1.3 million three-day parcels in the last year, a 13% increase in need. The key driver for this rise was incomes not covering the cost of essentials – and the majority of these incomes came through benefits.

“By failing to end the benefits freeze and five week wait for Universal Credit, thousands more people will become trapped in poverty and may be forced to a food bank as a result.

“The Government needs to put money back into the pockets of people who have lost the most to austerity. Ending poverty and hunger in the UK shouldn’t be sidelined – the time to act is now.”

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Contact: The Trussell Trust press office on 020 3137 3699.

 

Notes to Editor:

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

Information about Universal Credit and foodbank use is available here.

 

About The Trussell Trust:

  • The Trussell Trust is an anti-poverty charity that supports a network of more than 1,200 food bank centres across the UK.
  • In 2017-2018, 1,332,952 three day emergency food supplies were provided to people referred to food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network, a 13% increase on the previous year. Over a third of supplies (484,026) went to children.
  • It takes more than food to end hunger. The Trussell Trust therefore does three things: supports its network to provide emergency food to people referred; helps food banks to provide on-site additional help or signpost people to relevant local charities to resolve the cause of  referral; and brings together the experiences of hundreds of communities on the front line to challenge the structural issues that lock people in poverty, and campaign for long-term change so we can see a future without the need for food banks.
  • Read more at trusselltrust.org
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One year of Fight Hunger Create Change

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Food banks receive almost £2 million in grants to provide more support to people locked in poverty

More than 90 food banks in our network have been awarded grants to provide more support to people in crisis, as our partnership with FareShare and Asda Fight Hunger Create Change marks its first anniversary

As we continue working with FareShare and Asda to tackle the root causes of poverty in the UK, this new grant funding from the Fight Hunger Create Change partnership will allow food banks in our network to provide even more vital services to people at the point of crisis. From supplying emergency food parcels to providing on-site debt and money advice, the grants will allow the food banks to hire specialist advisers, create additional storage space and increase work to tackle the root causes of poverty in the UK. (more…)

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What does this week’s announcement on Universal Credit mean?

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A blog post by
Garry Lemon
Director of Policy, External Affairs & Research

On Monday afternoon the Government published an update to its plans for the next stage of Universal Credit, ‘managed migration’.

Until now, only people making a new application have gone onto the new benefits system. This next stage will see people already receiving a benefits or tax credits payment under the old system move onto Universal Credit.

At The Trussell Trust, we’ve been watching the development of these plans closely. As a nation we created systems like our national health service, fire service and benefits system because we’re a country that believes in protecting each other – but we’ve seen more and more people needing foodbanks in areas where Universal Credit has been rolled out.

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The Trussell Trust Responds to The Budget

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Responding to today’s Budget from the Chancellor, The Trussell Trust’s chief executive Emma Revie said:

“Today’s Budget suggests the Government has started to recognise our benefits system must be ready and able to support anyone who needs it. By restoring work allowances and increasing support to those moving onto Universal Credit the Government has listened to evidence from the frontline and from foodbanks. These are significant improvements that will make a real difference to many people supported by Universal Credit in the future.

“However, right now, more and more people across Britain are struggling to make ends meet, unable to afford food, and facing hunger as a result. The huge rise in foodbank use where Universal Credit has been rolled out is the opposite of what should be happening: our benefits system should be protecting people from needing a foodbank, not forcing people to use one.

“By failing to ensure benefits cover essential living costs, the Government risks undermining the health, wellbeing and dignity of millions of people.

“We know it doesn’t have to be like this. In a country that created a benefits system to anchor people from poverty, it is imperative that the Government goes further. We look forward to hearing more detail about what support will be in place during the next stage of Universal Credit.  We must see the Government act now to help end hunger and poverty in the UK for good.”

Analysis from The Trussell Trust shows a 52% average increase in foodbank use in areas that have had Universal Credit for 12 months, compared to 13% in areas that have not. Universal Credit is not the only issue driving foodbank use but it is an increasingly significant factor.

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Contact: The Trussell Trust press office on 020 3137 3699.

Notes to Editor:

Information about Universal Credit and foodbank use is available here.

About The Trussell Trust:

  • The Trussell Trust is an anti-poverty charity that supports a network of over 420 foodbanks across the UK.
  • In 2017-2018, 1,332,952 three day emergency food supplies were provided to people referred to foodbanks in The Trussell Trust’s network, a 13% increase on the previous year. Over a third of supplies (484,026) went to children.
  • It takes more than food to end hunger. The Trussell Trust therefore does three things: supports its network to provide emergency food to people referred; helps foodbanks to provide on-site additional help or signpost people to relevant local charities to resolve the cause of foodbank referral; and brings together the experiences of hundreds of communities on the frontline to challenge the structural issues that lock people in poverty and campaign for long-term change so we can see a future without the need for foodbanks.
  • Read more at trusselltrust.org
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The Trussell Trust responds to Universal Credit report from the Public Accounts Committee

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Universal Credit causes financial hardship for claimants, including increased debt and rent arrears, and forces people to use foodbanks, according to a report published by a cross-party committee of MPs today.

Responding to the conclusions of the Public Accounts Committee, Emma Revie, Chief Executive of The Trussell Trust, said,

“We’re a country that prides itself on doing the right thing. We created our benefits system to make sure support would be in place for each other, but today’s findings are clear: if Universal Credit is to continue this legacy, more must be done and it must be done now.  

“The report echoes the experience of people at foodbanks across the country. Waiting weeks for Universal Credit, not being able to access support, receiving payments that just don’t cover the cost of essentials – these are the things forcing people to use foodbanks. This is completely unacceptable.

“These Universal Credit issues are not one-offs, and with the next stage of the system looming, problems are only likely to increase if the Government doesn’t acknowledge the scale of the problem and learn the lessons of roll-out so far. This is the time to act – the Budget next week is an opportunity to do the right thing and invest in Universal Credit. If our benefits system is going to anchor people from being swept into poverty, it needs to be properly funded.” 

 Analysis from The Trussell Trust shows a 52% average increase in foodbank use in areas that have had Universal Credit for 12 months, compared to 13% in areas that have not. Universal Credit is not the only issue driving foodbank use but it is an increasingly significant factor.

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Contact: The Trussell Trust press office on 020 3137 3699.

Notes to Editor:

Information about Universal Credit and foodbank use is available here.

 

About The Trussell Trust:

  • The Trussell Trust is an anti-poverty charity that supports a network of over 420 foodbanks across the UK.
  • In 2017-2018, 1,332,952 three day emergency food supplies were provided to people referred to foodbanks in The Trussell Trust’s network, a 13% increase on the previous year. Over a third of supplies (484,026) went to children.
  • It takes more than food to end hunger. The Trussell Trust therefore does three things: supports its network to provide emergency food to people referred; helps foodbanks to provide on-site additional help or signpost people to relevant local charities to resolve the cause of foodbank referral; and brings together the experiences of hundreds of communities on the frontline to challenge the structural issues that lock people in poverty and campaign for long-term change so we can see a future without the need for foodbanks.
  • Read more at trusselltrust.org
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Charity warns next stage of Universal Credit could further increase foodbank use

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Anti-poverty charity The Trussell Trust fears the next stage of Universal Credit – which will see three million people moving from tax credits and the old benefits system onto the new system – could lead to a significant increase in foodbank use as new research highlights a major increase in the proportion of foodbank referrals made for people moving onto Universal Credit.

Issues with benefits are the main reason for all Trussell Trust foodbank referrals. Analysis of data from frontline agencies referring to foodbanks across the UK between April 2016 and April 2018 shows that benefit transitions, most likely due to people moving onto Universal Credit, are increasingly accounting for more referrals and are likely driving up need in areas of full Universal Credit rollout. Waiting for the first payment is a key cause, while for many, simply the act of moving over to a new system is causing hardship.

The findings come as the Department for Work and Pensions finalises its plans for the next stage of Universal Credit to take to Parliament later this month. Until now, only people making a new application for benefits in certain areas have been able to apply for Universal Credit. This next stage – ‘managed migration’ – will see the three million people currently receiving tax credits or benefit payments under the old system sent a letter telling them to reapply for these payments under Universal Credit.

Each person will have to wait at least five weeks for the first payment, and if people miss the deadline for application, could face having all their payments stopped. The Trussell Trust says this is particularly concerning because many people most in need of financial support will be in this group, with the majority relying on payments for housing, half claiming tax credits, and a third claiming disability benefits. Previous research shows half of people at foodbanks have a disability or health condition, or live with someone that does, suggesting they are already more likely to need a foodbank’s help.*

Emma Revie, Chief Executive of The Trussell Trust, explains:

“We created our benefits system in this country to free people from poverty, not lock them into it. As we look at the current plans for the next stage of Universal Credit, we’re really worried that our network of foodbanks could see a big increase in people needing help. Leaving three million people to wait at least five weeks for a first payment – especially when we have already decided they need support through our old benefits or tax credits system – is just not good enough. 

“It doesn’t have to be like this. We know the problems people are likely to face as they move over to the new system, so we can learn from them. The Department for Work and Pensions has shown they can act on evidence from the frontline to make a real difference to people who need our benefits system’s vital support. Now is the time for our Government to take responsibility for moving people currently on the old system over, and to ensure no one faces a gap in payments when that moves happens. Universal Credit needs to be ready for anyone who might need its help, and it needs to be ready before the next stage begins.”

The Trussell Trust recommends the Government moves people onto Universal Credit – rather than leaving people to make their own claim – to ensure there is no gap between old and new benefits payments; expands Universal Support, the wraparound digital and financial support service that should come with every Universal Credit claim; and publishes a schedule for the next stage of Universal Credit, ensuring there are opportunities to review the process and make changes whilst it is underway if needed.

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Contact: The Trussell Trust press office on 020 3137 3699.

Notes to Editor:

The executive summary and full report, ‘The next stage of Universal Credit’, can be read here.

The Trussell Trust has been working with its network of foodbanks to monitor the impact of Universal Credit. Universal Credit is not the only benefit people at foodbanks experience issues with, but it is an increasingly significant factor.

Analysis of foodbanks that have been in full Universal Credit rollout areas for a year or more shows that these projects experienced an average increase of 52% in the twelve months after the full rollout date in their area. Analysis of foodbanks either not in full Universal Credit areas, or only in full rollout areas for up to three months, showed an average increase of 13%.

More information about the next stage of Universal Credit and The Trussell Trust’s concerns can be found here.

*More information about disability, health and foodbank use can be found in Financial insecurity, food insecurity, and disability, R Loopstra 2017: https://www.trusselltrust.org/what-we-do/research-advocacy/oxford-university-report/

About The Trussell Trust:

  • The Trussell Trust is an anti-poverty charity that supports a network of over 420 foodbanks across the UK.
  • In 2017-2018, 1,332,952 three day emergency food supplies were provided to people referred to foodbanks in The Trussell Trust’s network, a 13% increase on the previous year. Over a third of supplies (484,026) went to children.
  • It takes more than food to end hunger. The Trussell Trust therefore does three things: supports its network to provide emergency food to people referred; helps foodbanks to provide on-site additional help or signpost people to relevant local charities to resolve the cause of foodbank referral; and brings together the experiences of hundreds of communities on the frontline to challenge the structural issues that lock people in poverty and campaign for long-term change so we can see a future without the need for foodbanks.
  • Read more at trusselltrust.org

 

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The Trussell Trust responds to Government announcement on Universal Support

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The Trussell Trust has been monitoring the impact of Universal Credit in foodbanks across the country. The charity’s most recent research found only 8% of people referred to a foodbank following an issue with Universal Credit were offered support from their local Jobcentre or local authority during the wait for a first payment.

Responding to the Department for Work & Pensions’ announcement today that Citizens Advice will deliver more Universal Support services to people making claims under the new benefits system, Universal Credit,

Garry Lemon, Director of Policy & Research at The Trussell Trust said, 

“We welcome the Department for Work & Pensions’ announcement today that Citizens Advice will be delivering a more comprehensive Universal Support service to people making a Universal Credit claim from April. Strengthening the system – which should provide wrap-around support to everyone making a new claim – will make a real difference to thousands of people navigating a completely new, digital service whilst under extreme financial pressure.

“Over the last two years many people referred to foodbanks in our network have told us they haven’t been able to access enough help from Universal Support, and what help is available varies place to place, so it’s good to see the Department for Work & Pensions listening to, and acting on, these concerns.  

“Foodbanks tell us there’s more to be done, and as we look ahead to the challenges of the next stage of Universal Credit, when the 3 million people already receiving tax credits or benefits payments will need to reapply under the new system, we are seriously worried about more people needing foodbanks. This announcement gives us hope that the Government will listen to our concerns on this too, and take responsibility for moving people onto the new system when they finalise their plans on the next stage of Universal Credit later this month.”

The charity is calling for lessons to be learnt from the roll-out so far ahead of the next stage of the new benefits system beginning, which will see the 3m people already receiving a benefits or tax credits payment under the old system sent a letter saying that money will stop and they need to apply online for Universal Credit. Even if everything goes to plan, every single person will be waiting at least five weeks for a first payment. Read more here.

 

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Contact: [email protected] / 020 3745 5982

 

About The Trussell Trust:

  • The Trussell Trust is an anti-poverty charity that runs a network of 428 foodbanks across the UK.
  • It is simply not acceptable that so many people in the UK face hunger, and we won’t sit by whilst increasing numbers of people are expected to hit crisis and need a foodbank’s help. We’re determined to create long term change, challenging the structural issues that lock people into poverty and seeing an end to the need for foodbanks.
  • Whilst we work towards this, we’re committed to ensure everyone referred to a foodbank in our network receives the best possible support, so we help foodbanks to offer much more than food: volunteers are supported to provide a listening ear and help resolve the underlying cause of crisis either through signposting onto relevant local charities or providing on-site immediate support, such as money advice and budget cookery courses.
  • Read more at trusselltrust.org
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