Posts in 'Press Releases'

Action still needed on Universal Credit wait, as new figures show a 13% increase in foodbank use in just six months compared to this time last year

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The Trussell Trust’s foodbank network provided 658,048 emergency supplies to people in crisis between April and September 2018, a 13% increase on the same period in 2017. The charity says if the five week minimum wait for a first Universal Credit payment is not reduced, the only way to prevent even more people being forced to foodbanks this winter is to pause all new claims to Universal Credit.

The inability of benefit levels to cover essential living costs and issues with payments remain the most common reasons for referral to a foodbank. Universal Credit is not the only benefit people at foodbanks are experiencing problems with, but the new system is increasingly driving referrals due to benefit delays, which include waiting for a first payment or having problems with a new claim.1

Foodbanks typically receive more referrals for emergency support during the second half of the financial year, raising concerns that foodbank use this winter will rise further, as hardship experienced annually during the colder months is compounded by more people left waiting at least five weeks for benefit payments.

The Trussell Trust welcomes changes to Universal Credit announced in the recent Budget. However much of the support will not come into force until July 2020.2 To protect people who will move onto Universal Credit before that point, the charity is calling for the Department for Work & Pensions to be resourced to reduce the five week minimum wait for a first payment.

Emma Revie, Chief Executive of The Trussell Trust explains,

“We created systems like our national health service, fire service and benefits system because we’re a country that believes in protecting each other. Our benefits system is supposed to anchor any of us from being swept into poverty, but if Universal Credit is to do that, we need to see urgent changes.

“It’s not right that people are being forced to use foodbanks after weeks of waiting for Universal Credit payments. The changes announced in last week’s Budget are a good start – but they won’t solve all of the problems foodbanks see, and they won’t help people making new claims this winter.

“We’re seeing soaring levels of need at foodbanks. The time to act is now. If the five week wait isn’t reduced, the only way to stop even more people being forced to foodbanks this winter will be to pause all new claims to Universal Credit, until funding is in place to reduce the five week wait. Foodbanks cannot continue to pick up the pieces – we have to make sure our benefits system can protect people from hunger.”

A national petition calling on the Government to fix Universal Credit from the End Hunger UK campaign, backed by The Trussell Trust and a range of charities and faith groups, will be delivered to 10 Downing Street on Wednesday 7th November.

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Contact

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

Notes to Editor

  • Between 1st April and 30th September 2018, foodbanks in The Trussell Trust’s network provided 658,048 emergency supplies to people in crisis between April and September 2018. 232,761 of these supplies went to children.
  • This is a 13% increase on the same period in 2017, when 580,949 emergency supplies went to people in crisis; 206,327 of these went to children.
  • The main reasons for referral between April – Sept 2018 were: benefit payments not covering the cost of essentials (31%), benefit delays (22%) and benefit changes (17%)
  1. ‘Benefit delays’: The Trussell Trust can compare trends over time using data gathered from electronic foodbank referrals since April 2016. Electronic referrals are completed by referral agencies in the same way as traditional paper vouchers, and can collect more detailed information about the reason behind the referral.

Additional information about the type of electronic referral due to a ‘benefit delay’ includes waiting for a first payment, waiting for a new claim to be awarded and interrupted payments. Universal Credit accounted for the following proportion of electronic foodbank referrals due to a benefit delay:

Time Period Proportion of electronic referrals due to a benefit delay due to waiting for a new Universal Credit payment or award
1st April – 30th September 2017 16%
1st October 2017 – 31st March 2018 27%
1st April – 30th September 2018 31%

More information about our network’s electronic referral system and what the figures between April and September 2018 show can be found here.

  1. The Budget: The Trussell Trust welcomes the Universal Credit changes announced in the recent Budget, however the changes will not help everyone referred to a foodbank following a Universal Credit issue. Changes aimed at addressing the five-week wait will not come into force quickly enough to make a difference this winter.
  • While the government has now introduced 100% advance payments to manage the five-week wait, these must be repaid. The 2018 Budget announced the government would attempt to make repayments more affordable by reducing the maximum rate of Universal Credit deductions to repay debts from 40% to 30% of the Universal Credit personal allowance. It will also increase the period over which advances can be recovered, from 12 to 16 months. However, the former change will not happen until October 2019, and the latter only from October 2021.
  • Building on the 2017 Budget announcement that Housing Benefit claimants will receive an additional payment providing a fortnight’s worth of support during their transition to Universal Credit, the government announced that it will extend this to cover the income-related elements of Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance, and Income Support. However, this excludes significant groups, such as people receiving tax credits, and will only come into force from July 2020.

About The Trussell Trust:

  • The Trussell Trust is here to end hunger and poverty in the UK. We support a network of 428 foodbanks, operating out of more than 1200 centres across the UK.
  • It takes more than food to end hunger. We do three things: support our network to provide emergency food to people referred; help foodbanks provide additional support to resolve the cause of foodbank referral; and bring together the experiences of hundreds of communities on the frontline to challenge the structural issues that lock people in poverty. We’re campaigning for long-term change so we can see a future without the need for foodbanks.
  • Read more at trusselltrust.org

Trussell Trust foodbank statistics:

  • Trussell Trust statistics are a measure of volume rather than unique users. Our data system can calculate the average visit frequency within a time period and shows people visited on average around two times between April and September 2018, leading us to estimate that approximately 329,024 people are likely to have been unique users in this six month period.
  • The data is collected using an online system into which foodbanks enter data from each foodbank voucher, and the number of three day emergency food supplies (containing enough food for 10 meals) is recorded, along with the reason for referral.
  • Trussell Trust figures cannot be used to fully explain the scale of foodbank use across the UK, because our figures relate to foodbanks in our network and not to the hundreds of independent food aid banks. Research suggests that Trussell Trust foodbank centres account for roughly two-thirds of all emergency food banks in the UK. You can read more about this here.

 

 

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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: press@trusselltrust.org / 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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Call for donations as charity reveals rise in food for children is behind increased foodbank need during holidays

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An increase in demand for emergency food for children drove increased foodbank need during the summer holidays last year, new data published by anti-poverty charity The Trussell Trust shows today.

Last year the number of supplies given to adults decreased slightly in the summer months, whereas the level of support needed for children was markedly higher: during July and August 2017, The Trussell Trust’s network of over 420 foodbanks provided over 204,525 three day emergency supplies, 74,011 of which went to children. In comparison, during May and June 2017 70,510 supplies went to children.* (more…)

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Fix Universal Credit to prevent more people going hungry, say UK food aid providers

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End Hunger UK, a coalition of organisations working together to tackle hunger, today launched a national petition calling on the Prime Minister to fix Universal Credit to prevent people going hungry.  Evidence from frontline food aid providers across the UK reveals that the rollout of Universal Credit is currently causing hardship for vulnerable people, and putting pressure on emergency food supplies. 

End Hunger UK’s survey of food aid providers, published today, is just the latest piece of evidence that Universal Credit needs to be fixed. Both the National Audit Office and The Trussell Trust’s foodbank network, which has seen a 52% average increase in foodbank use in areas after 12 months of full Universal Credit rollout, have raised concerns about increased pressure on frontline charities following the rollout of the new benefits system. (more…)

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Mind and The Trussell Trust evidence problems with Universal Credit

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Representatives from leading mental health charity Mind and anti-poverty charity The Trussell Trust gave evidence to the Public Accounts Committee yesterday about the roll-out of Universal Credit (UC).

Both charities have recently called on the Government to delay the roll out of UC after the National Audit Office (NAO) released a damning report highlighting how the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has not done enough to protect and support ‘vulnerable claimants’ including disabled people and people with health conditions. (more…)

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New NAO report on Universal Credit highlights hardship & foodbank use

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Responding to the National Audit Office report about the roll out of Universal Credit, Emma Revie, Chief Executive of The Trussell Trust, said,

“No one should need to turn to a foodbank. Our benefits system was built to end hunger and destitution – Universal Credit can and must continue that legacy, but if it is to do so we need payments to cover the cost of essentials, more support in place for groups of people most likely to need a foodbank, and debt advice to be offered to everyone moving onto the new system. (more…)

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“Benefit levels must keep pace with rising cost of essentials” as record increase in foodbank figures is revealed

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Between 1st April 2017 and 31st March 2018, The Trussell Trust’s foodbank network distributed 1,332,952 three day emergency food supplies to people in crisis, a 13% increase on the previous year. 484,026 of these went to children. This is a higher increase than the previous financial year, when foodbank use was up by 6.64%.

For the first time, new national data highlights the growing proportion of foodbank referrals due to benefit levels not covering the costs of essentials, driving the increase in foodbank use overall. ‘Low income – benefits, not earning’ is the biggest single, and fastest growing, reason for referral to a foodbank, with ‘low income’ accounting for 28% of referrals UK-wide compared to 26% in the previous year. Analysis of trends over time demonstrates it has significantly increased since April 2016, suggesting an urgent need to look at the adequacy of current benefit levels.** (more…)

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