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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One food bank manager said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

Notes to editors:

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

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

 

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

About the Trussell Trust:

  • We’re here to end the need for food banks in UK.
  • We support a UK-wide network of more than 1,400 food bank centres and together we provide emergency food and support to people locked in poverty, and campaign for change to end the need for food banks in the UK.
  • Our most recent figures for the number of emergency food supplies provided by our network: https://www.trusselltrust.org/news-and-blog/latest-stats/

 

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Two in five Brits receiving Universal Credit forced into debt this winter as payments failed to cover soaring cost of living, says the Trussell Trust

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  • One in six people who receive Universal Credit needed to visit a food bank at least once since the start of December, according to new research

  • Almost 2m people were currently going without food, while others were living in cold conditions as they couldn’t afford to power and heat their homes

  • The charity is calling on UK government to urgently bring benefit levels in line with the rate of inflation as a bare minimum this Spring Statement to help prevent more people being forced into debt and to food banks

The Trussell Trust says new research has revealed the true and devastating consequences of the current cost of living crisis, with hundreds of thousands of families across the country struggling to get by.

A new online YouGov poll of people claiming Universal Credit shows two in five (40%) Brits receiving Universal Credit have been forced into debt this winter just to eat and pay bills.

One in six people surveyed (17%) needed to visit a food bank at least once since the start of December.

One in three (33%) people receiving Universal Credit had more than one day in the last month where they didn’t eat at all or had only one meal, while one in three people (33%) surveyed have not been able to heat their home for more than four days across the last month because they couldn’t afford to.

The charity also worked with Humankind research to interview 48 people who told researchers debt forces them into a downward spiral for their finances, their family and their mental health.

Dee, 60 from Aberdeen, worked in the building sector but was made redundant and now receives Universal Credit She said:

“It’s just so disheartening to think that I’m in debt through no fault of my own. It still won’t be paid off until I’m well into my pension. It’s causing me ongoing stress to feel like I’m never getting to the end of it. It’s overwhelming and really drags me down.”

This is the true cost of the rising price of essentials for people on the lowest incomes – people already facing impossible decisions such as heating or eating, with many having to take on debt just to get by.

People said they were unable to afford to get to work or get children to school, some said they have mould growing in their home because they can’t afford the heating, some were turning off their fridges to save money and several people highlighted an imminent risk of homelessness.

This situation is only set to get worse, says the charity, with inflation set to hit at least 7% this April.

The UK government is due to increase benefit levels by just 3.1% – less than half what’s needed to even begin to make up the shortfall. This increase amounts to just a £2 a week rise, which the charity highlights as ‘dangerously insufficient’ in light of the soaring living costs people are facing.

Worryingly, this comes on top of the £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit introduced in November and a five-year freeze on benefits rates which means these payments are worth 11% less than they were a decade ago.

The charity is calling on the UK government to increase benefits by at least 7% this April as a bare minimum, to bring them in line with the true rate of inflation and help prevent pushing more and more people into debt with no way out.

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

“Right now, the cost of living is forcing hundreds of thousands of families across the country into a downward spiral of debt just to get by. People are telling us they’re going days with minimal food, are having to endure the cold to save money and are being forced to turn to food banks with devastating effects on people’s mental health. Social security should be protecting people from debt and food banks – not pushing them towards it.

“This isn’t right. We know the situation is only set to get worse and we cannot wait any longer.

“That’s why we are calling on the UK Government to bring benefits in line with the forecast rate of inflation as a bare minimum in the upcoming Spring Statement, to prevent thousands more people being forced into debt and through the doors of food banks. Longer term, it is vital we strengthen our social security system so it protects us all from harm and invest in local crisis support so no one needs to use a food bank to get by.”

The Trussell Trust is urging the public to write to your local MP, asking the Chancellor to take action and make social security strong enough for all of us to rely on when we need a lifeline.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

 

  1. The research is based on an online survey by YouGov of 1,506 adults (18+) currently claiming Universal Credit. People were surveyed between 24 January – 15 February 2022.
  2. The figures have been weighted to be representative of people claiming Universal Credit. All weighting data provided by the Trussell Trust from Stat-Xplore.
  3. Figures on the proportion of people falling into debt are the Trussell Trust’s own analysis of data collected by YouGov.
  4. Figures on the percentage of people needing support from a food bank do not include those that solely used a food bank because they couldn’t physically access food.
  5. Estimates of the number of people are the Trussell Trust’s own analysis. They are calculated by taking Department for Work and Pensions data from State-Xplore on the number of people aged 16+ claiming Universal Credit in Great Britain in January 2022 and data from the Department for Communities in Northern Ireland in November 2021 and multiplying by the survey results. These figures do not include children.
  6. Inflation figures take into account multiple forecasts of rates increasing beyond 7%.
  7. The total number of people aged 16+ in Great Britain claiming Universal Credit in January 2022 was 5,627,477. In Northern Ireland in November 2021 there were 132,580.

Other detailed information on question wording and results available from the Trussell Trust on request

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More than 5,100 food parcels given to people facing crisis across the UK every day in past six months, says the Trussell Trust

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The charity says families with children have been hit hardest with almost 2,000 parcels provided for children every day by food banks in its network 

New figures released today reveal more than 5,100 emergency food parcels were provided for people every day from April until September this year on average, by food banks in the Trussell Trust network. That’s at least three parcels given every minute and is an 11% increase compared to the same period in 2019, as need for emergency food remains well above pre-pandemic levels. 

Alarmingly, families with children have been hit the hardest, with food parcels for children increasing at double the rate for adults, compared to pre-pandemic levels. Between April and September 2021, almost 2,000 parcels were provided for children every day on average, compared to almost 1,700 in 2019.    

As more and more people across the country face destitution – meaning they are unable to afford the absolute essentials to eat, stay warm, dry and clean – the Trussell Trust warns need for emergency food is expected to rise further still, this winter and beyond. Food banks in the Trussell Trust network face giving out more than 7,000 food parcels every day in December. 

The charity says many families already at breaking point face the fallout of the £20 per week cut from Universal Credit payments that hit this autumn. This is on top of rising fuel costs during the coldest season, as well as soaring inflation.  

This is forcing many families deeper into poverty, the charity says, and is leaving people facing impossible decisions where their only option is to either skip meals to provide food for their children or heat their home. 

The Trussell Trust’s chief executive Emma Revie says we all need the security and stability of a lifeline to support us whenever we need it and is calling on the UK government to urgently strengthen the social security system. She is also urging the public to donate vital funds to help fight hunger this winter and support the Trussell Trust’s campaign for change to help end the need for food banks. 

 

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

“Everyone in the UK should be able to afford the essentials – to buy their own food and heat their homes. Yet food banks in our network continue to see more and more people facing destitution with an increase in food parcels going to children. This is not right.  

 

“Our food bank managers expect need to grow further still, saying they will need to provide more than 7,000 food parcels a day during December, as many families are faced with an even tougher winter ahead. This must stop.  

 

“The answer must be for us to have the stability of a strong enough social security system to protect any one of us when we need it. We need government at all levels to take action and are asking the public to help fight hunger this winter and join the campaign to fight for a future without the need for food banks.” 

 

Join the Trussell Trust’s Winter Appeal now by donating vital funds to help us campaign for change so that no one needs a food bank in the future.: trusselltrust.org/impossible-decisions 

ENDS     

Notes to editors: 

Number of emergency food parcels distributed by food banks in the Trussell Trust network in the mid-year period of 2019 and 2021.   

  1st April 2021 – 30 September 2021   1st April 2019 – 30 September 2019   Percentage change  
  To adults   To children   Total   To adults   To children   Total   To adults   To children   Total  
United Kingdom   579,179  356,570  935,749  534,616  309,101  843,717  8%  15%  11% 

 

  1. In the mid-year period of 2021 (1st April – 30th September inclusive) these parcels were distributed by 1,468 distribution centres operating in 292 local authorities across the UK. 
  1. Across this period in 2021 food banks in the Trussell Trust network distributed, on average, over three (3.55) parcels to people in crisis every minute. 
  1. Food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network experienced unprecedented increases during 2020 as the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic drove people to food banks. This years figures are lower than those seen in the equivalent period in 2020 but remain higher than 2019 and 74% up on the same period in 2016.  
  1. ‘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.  
  1. Need for emergency food is driven by a lack of income. The Trussell Trust’s State of Hunger research shows that 95% 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 
  1. Figures from the Trussell Trust network cannot be used to fully explain the scale of food bank use across the UK. The Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) has identified at least 1,124 independent food banks while there are also Salvation Army food banks as well as food banks run from schools and hospitals. There are also thousands of other food aid providers including soup kitchens and social supermarkets.  

Contact       

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

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: https://www.trusselltrust.org/news-and-blog/latest-stats/     

 

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People forced to use food banks at the start of the pandemic faced extreme poverty

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People forced to food banks at the start of the pandemic faced extreme poverty, with just £248 a month to survive on after housing costs, according to new research.

The Trussell Trust calls for government at all levels to commit to working to end the need for food banks for good as it launches study at cross-party political event.

Today, the Trussell Trust reveals State of Hunger 2021, a follow-up to the most authoritative piece of independent research into hunger in the UK to date. Commissioned by the charity and conducted by Heriot-Watt University, the study sheds light on the groups of people across the UK disproportionately affected by hunger and the drivers behind food bank use. (more…)

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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.  (more…)

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The Trussell Trust and Bank of America form partnership to support people in crisis.

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The Trussell Trust and Bank of America form partnership to support people in crisis. Working to create a hunger free future for all.

Today, the Trussell Trust and Bank of America have entered a partnership as food banks in the charity’s network experience a huge rise in need through the pandemic.

Food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network saw a 47% increase in need during the first six months of the pandemic, with 1.2m emergency food parcels provided to people in crisis between April and September 2020 alone. There has been a huge increase in emergency food going to children, with 2,600 food parcels going to children across the UK every day. (more…)

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Our new report calls for the £20 Universal Credit uplift to be extended

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Nearly a quarter of a million parents on Universal Credit fear not being able to properly feed their children if cut to benefit goes ahead, according to new report.

The report from the Trussell Trust warns of growing need for food banks from people claiming Universal Credit as one in five people on the benefit say that they are ‘very likely’ to turn to one, if the £20 rise is removed.

The Trussell Trust is urgently calling on the government to keep the £20 weekly uplift to Universal Credit due to end in April, as a survey reveals the alarming consequences of cutting it. (more…)

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Almost half of people at food banks have money taken by government from benefit payments during economic crisis

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  • The Trussell Trust says 47% of households surveyed at food banks during the summer owed money to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) due to loans and overpayments of benefits – this is compared to 37% at the start of the year before the pandemic hit
  • Almost three out of four households on Universal Credit at food banks over the summer were repaying an advance payment to the government, a loan primarily taken out to cover the five-week wait for a first payment
  • The charity is urging the government to stop taking money from people’s pockets through the winter months until a more just system is put in place
  • You can help by joining the fight for a Hunger Free Future and by tweeting the DWP Minister to ask for these deductions to be paused this winter.

(more…)

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2,600 food parcels provided for children every day in first six months of the pandemic

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 2,600 food parcels provided for children every day in first six months of the pandemic  

  • Food banks in the Trussell Trust’s UK network saw a shocking 47% increase in need during the crisis, building on record need experienced during the same period last year
  • The charity warns these figures are the tip of the iceberg, as many people will have been helped by other community groups
  • Welcome steps have been taken by the UK government but longer-term action is needed, and the Trussell Trust is calling for people to join the campaign to build a Hunger Free Future

(more…)

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Pears Foundation grants £1 million to help get money into pockets of people at food banks

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As part of their ongoing partnership with the Trussell Trust, Pears Foundation has announced a £1 million grant to the charity which supports a network of food banks across the UK. The funds, to be provided over the next five years, will focus on tackling destitution by raising people’s incomes. This will include the provision of high-quality benefits advice made freely available for people referred to food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network. 

As the full impact of Covid-19 continues to unfold, latest research by the Trussell Trust forecasts a 61% increase in food parcels needed across its UK network in October to December – this equates to six emergency food parcels given out every minute. (more…)

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