Posts in 'Press Releases'

The longer Universal Credit exists in an area, the higher the need for food banks  

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In areas where Universal Credit has been rolled out for at least a year, food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network have seen a 30% increase in demand. In  areas with the new system for at least 18 months this jumps to 40%, and increases again to 48% for food banks in areas with Universal Credit for at least two years*

The Trussell Trust is urging the government to end the five week wait** for Universal Credit, as it publishes a new report revealing the longer the new benefits system has been rolled out in an area, the more people are plunged into poverty.

The charity highlights that while the Department for Work and Pensions has attempted to find solutions to issues with Universal Credit, the wait for a first benefit payment, which is often longer than five weeks, is continuing to cause unnecessary hardship. Government loans, which are currently offered during the wait, are also pushing more people into debt, the charity says.

The Trussell Trust’s chief executive Emma Revie said:

“Universal Credit should be there to anchor any of us against the tides of poverty.  But the five week wait fatally undermines this principle, pushing people into debt, homelessness and destitution.

“In a society that believes in justice and compassion, this isn’t right. But it is something that can be fixed. Universal Credit was designed to have a wait. Now it’s clear that wait is five weeks too long, and we must change that design.

“The recent Spending Review was a lost opportunity to protect people on the lowest incomes.  Our Prime Minister must take action to end this wait, and help prevent thousands more of us being swept away by poverty. With the nation at a crossroads, now is the time to loosen the grip of poverty and make sure Universal Credit is able to protect people from needing a food bank, instead of pushing them to one.”

A similar pattern of financial hardship in areas where Universal Credit has rolled out is revealed by new evidence in the report from the Riverside Group, a large provider of social housing and homelessness services.

On average, people claiming Universal Credit at July 2019 had experienced a 42% increase in rent arrears since rollout began in 2015. By stark contrast, those claiming Housing Benefit (the previous ‘legacy’ benefits system) experienced a 20% decrease , analysis shows.

Hugh Owen, Director of Strategy and Public Affairs at Riverside said:

“Riverside is calling on the government to end the five week wait for Universal Credit because increasing numbers of our tenants are experiencing hardship while waiting for their first payment. Our data clearly shows that the wait is causing many of our tenants to get into rent arrears which can take months or even years to clear.

“A recent survey of many of our tenants told us that they are struggling to keep afloat when they move onto Universal Credit; the long wait means that many people are going without food or heating and they are forced to use foodbanks in order to feed their families. We welcome the simplicity that moving to an integrated benefit is intended to bring, but the way Universal Credit is being implemented means that instead of acting as a safety net, it is dragging people into debt.”

The #5WeeksTooLong study also reveals the detrimental impact the wait is having on people’s mental health. Many people reported experiencing high levels of anxiety, especially as they did not know how much they would receive and when. Some even reported feeling suicidal.

Mike had to resign from his work as a support worker to care for his mother who was diagnosed with a long-term disease. During this time he had to claim Universal Credit. He found that he could no longer manage to pay his rent after he took an Advance Payment:

“It’s made me go from being a confident lad who loved working with vulnerable people to ending up needing the support I used to offer others. Now I’m unable to support them or myself.”

The Trussell Trust and Riverside are not alone in issuing this stark warning. Through the #5WeeksTooLong campaign the Trussell Trust is united with 45 other organisations and more than 14,000 individuals, in urging the government to end the five week wait now.

 

Ends

Contact:

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

Notes to editor

The new report, #5WeeksTooLong: why we need to end the wait for Universal Credit, can be accessed here.

* Overall percentage increase in food parcels provided in the 12, 18, and 24 months from when Universal Credit ‘goes live’ in the relevant local authority. Due to the gradual rollout of Universal Credit, sample sizes decrease: data covers 185, 101 and 37 food banks respectively.

** The initial wait for Universal Credit is built into the design of the new benefits system – each claimant moving onto Universal Credit must wait at least five weeks before receiving their first Universal Credit payment. While the wait was reduced from six to five weeks in February 2018 as a result of 2017 Budget changes, this is still a substantially longer wait than for legacy benefits, which is typically around two weeks.

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 1,200 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/

You can read more about our work at www.trusselltrust.org

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The Spending Review: we respond

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Responding to the Spending Review on 4th September, Chief Executive of the Trussell Trust, Emma Revie, said:

“This Spending Review was a lost opportunity. As the country looks to the future, we need our Government to put policy ahead of politics. Increasing living costs, inadequate benefit levels, and the five week wait for Universal Credit are all leaving people without enough money in their pockets for the most basic costs. It’s no surprise we’re seeing the highest level of need for food banks ever.

“Our benefits system must be able to offer vital protection to people in uncertain times, yet there was little mention of how households on low incomes will stay afloat as Brexit unfolds. It was particularly disappointing to see no action on the five week wait for Universal Credit – we know this is pushing people to the doors of food banks.

“It’s not inevitable that food bank use will continue to increase – there are steps we can, and must, take as a country. First, our Government must end the five week wait for Universal Credit. More broadly, if we want our benefits system to be able to offer crucial support, we must also see benefit levels restored to make the cost of living affordable. These are things in our Government’s power to deliver – anchoring us all from the rising tide of poverty must be a priority.”

Ends

Contact

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

Notes to Editor

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

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 1,200 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/
  • You can read more about our work at trusselltrust.org
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Our new Prime Minister must work to protect us all from needing a food bank

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Following the announcement of Boris Johnson as the UK’s new Prime Minister, the Trussell Trust’s chief executive Emma Revie said:

“During the leadership campaign Boris Johnson told us “the poorest come first”. As our Prime Minister, he now has an opportunity to put those words into action and create a new vision for our country – one that unlocks people from poverty and protects us all from needing a food bank.

“Beyond Brexit, we have crucial choices to make about the kind of society we want to be. We must build a future that works for everyone – this means a benefits system that anchors people from being swept into poverty, work that is secure and fairly paid, and more affordable costs of living.

“In particular, we need Universal Credit to be the poverty-fighting reform that was intended. The most urgent problem to address is the five week wait for Universal Credit. More and more people are being pushed to the doors of food banks while waiting for a first payment. Our new Prime Minister can change this by ending the wait. At the heart of any plan for our country’s future must be a commitment to protect all of us from poverty.”

Ends

Contact:

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

Notes to Editor

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

  • ‘Emergency food parcel’: three days’ emergency food for one person. These statistics are a measure of volume rather than unique individuals. Recent analysis shows on average people need around two food bank referrals in a year. More information about the way this data is gathered and what it can and can’t show here.

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 1,200 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/
  • You can read more about our work at trusselltrust.org

 

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Welsh food banks fear busiest summer ever is ahead

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New figures released by the Trussell Trust reveal 14% increase in emergency food parcels for children in Wales last summer

The Trussell Trust is urging the public to donate food to their local food bank, as new figures show 4,137 food parcels went to children in Wales during the six weeks of the school summer holidays in 2018, a 14% increase on the same period in 2017.*

Over a third of all emergency food parcels distributed by Welsh food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network go to children, but there is extra financial pressure during the holiday period for families who are entitled to free school meals during term time.

The figures come against a backdrop of soaring food bank use in Wales. In 2018-19, food bank use escalated throughout the year in Wales with a 15% total increase**, and it is expected this trend will continue, prompting concerns that this summer will be the Trussell Trust network’s busiest to date. Ahead of schools breaking up next week, the Trussell Trust is urging people check what items their local food bank is most in need of.

While these donations are vital for helping families during the next six weeks, the charity has stressed food banks are not a long-term solution, and more must be done to ensure people have enough money for essentials like food.

The Trussell Trust believes tackling delays and gaps in benefits, which affect families’ ability to afford essentials, should be treated as a priority by the Government. The most immediate relief for thousands of people would be to end the five week wait for a first Universal Credit payment, a key driver of need at food banks in the charity’s network.

While the charity welcomes schemes by the Welsh Government to mitigate the adverse financial impact of the school holidays on families, it believes more action needs to be taken to address the underlying causes of poverty.

Susan Lloyd-Selby, Wales Operations Manager for the Trussell Trust, explains:

“Food banks do all they can to help families in Wales over the summer and many run holiday clubs to support parents who find that their income simply won’t stretch to meet the extra pressure of missing free school meals or paying for additional childcare. But no charity can replace the dignity of having enough money for the basics.

“Ultimately, we should all be protected from needing a food bank’s help, no matter the time of the year. Wales has the highest child poverty rates in the UK and if we are to end hunger in Wales, we need to make sure everyone is anchored from being swept into poverty. The Government needs to ensure benefit payments reflect the true cost of living and work is secure, paying the real Living Wage, which would help eliminate the need for a food bank parcel altogether.

“While it’s great to see the Welsh Government committing funding to tackle holiday hunger through their School Holiday Enrichment Programme, food provision cannot, and must not, be a long term solution to poverty.”

Ends

Contact:

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

Notes to Editor

There are 111 food bank centres in the Trussell Trust’s network in Wales.

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

  • ‘Emergency food parcel’: three days’ emergency food for one person. These statistics are a measure of volume rather than unique individuals. Recent analysis shows on average people need around two food bank referrals in a year. More information about the way this data is gathered and what it can and can’t show here.

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 1,200 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/
  • You can read more about our work at trusselltrust.org

 

  Food parcels to adults and children for summer holidays 2017 Food parcels to adults and children for summer holidays 2018 % change 2017-2018
Wales Adults 6,199 7,300 17.8%
Children 3,634 4,137 13.8%
Total 9,833 11,437 16.3%

*Number of food parcels to adults and children for the school summer holidays in Wales (July 22 – August 31)

**Figures from Welsh food banks in the Trussell Trust network for 2018/19

Between 1st April 2018 and 31st March 2019, food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network in Wales provided 113,373 emergency supplies to people in crisis. 40,793 of these supplies went to children.

 

 

 

 

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UK food banks fear busiest summer ever is ahead

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New figures released by the Trussell Trust reveal 20% increase in emergency food parcels for children in the UK last summer

The Trussell Trust is urging the public to donate food to their local food bank, as new figures show 87,496 food parcels went to children in the UK during the summer holidays in 2018, a 20% increase on the same period in 2017.*

Over a third of all emergency food parcels distributed by food banks in the Trussell Trust’s UK-wide network go to children, but there is extra financial pressure during the holiday period for families who are entitled to free school meals during term time.

The figures come against a backdrop of soaring food bank use in UK. In 2018-19, food bank use escalated throughout the year with a 19% total increase**, and it is expected this trend will continue, prompting concerns that this summer will be the Trussell Trust network’s busiest to date.

Ahead of schools across England*** and Wales breaking up next week, the Trussell Trust is urging people check what items their local food bank is most in need of.

While these donations are vital for helping families during the next six weeks, the charity has stressed food banks are not a long-term solution, and more must be done to ensure people have enough money for essentials like food.

The Trussell Trust believes tackling delays and gaps in benefits, which affect families’ ability to afford essentials, should be treated as a priority by the Government. The most immediate relief for thousands of people would be to end the five week wait for a first Universal Credit payment, a key driver of need at food banks in the charity’s network.

The Trussell Trust’s chief executive Emma Revie said:

“Food banks will do all they can to help families over the summer, with many running holiday clubs to support parents who find that their income simply won’t stretch to meet the extra pressure of missing free school meals or paying for additional childcare during the holidays. But no charity can replace the dignity of having enough money for the basics.

“While it’s great to see schemes in place to tackle holiday hunger, food banks and other emergency food provision cannot, and must not, be a long term solution to poverty. Ultimately, we should all be protected from needing a food bank’s help, no matter the time of the year.

“If we are to end hunger in the UK, we need to make sure everyone is anchored from being swept into poverty. The Government needs to ensure benefit payments reflect the true cost of living and work is secure, paying the real Living Wage. Every family should have enough money coming in for a decent standard of living. No child should face going hungry in the UK.”

Ends

Contact:

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

Notes to Editor

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

  • ‘Emergency food parcel’: three days’ emergency food for one person. These statistics are a measure of volume rather than unique individuals. Recent analysis shows on average people need around two food bank referrals in a year. More information about the way this data is gathered and what it can and can’t show here.

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 1,200 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/
  • You can read more about our work at trusselltrust.org

 

*Number of food parcels to adults and children for the summer holidays in the UK

 

Food parcels to adults and children for summer holidays 2017 (Jul 1 – Aug 31) Food parcels to adults and children for summer holidays 2018 (Jul 1 – Aug 31) % change 2017-2018

 

UK

Adults 128,918 151,700 17.7%
Children 73,226 87,496 19.5%
Total 202,144 239,196 18.3%

 

**Figures from food banks in the Trussell Trust network for 2018/19

 

  • Between 1st April 2018 and 31st March 2019, food banks in The Trussell Trust’s network provided 1,583,668 emergency supplies to people in crisis. 577,618 of these supplies went to children.
  • This is an 18.8% increase on the previous year, when 1,332,952 emergency supplies went to people in crisis; 484,026 of these went to children.

***Number of food parcels to adults and children for the 2018 school summer holidays in England (July 22 – August 31)

 

Region Adults Children Total Total % increase from 2017
South West 8,622 5,610 14,232 15.79%
South East 9,069 5,410 14,479 13.94%
North East 4,835 2,829 7,664 26.30%
North West 14,804 9,268 24,072 23.50%
London 10,682 6,166 16,848 25.88%
West Midlands 9,056 5,163 14,219 22.54%
East Midlands 4,726 2,832 7,558 12.02%
East 9,451 6,116 15,567 24.16%
Yorkshire & Humberside 6,091 3,753 9,844 14.49%

 

 

 

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Northern Ireland food banks fear for busiest summer ever

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New figures released by the Trussell Trust reveal 8% increase in emergency food parcels for children in Northern Ireland last summer

The Trussell Trust is urging the public to donate food to their local food bank, as new figures show 1,758 food parcels went to children in Northern Ireland during the two months of the school summer holidays in 2018, a 7.7% increase on the same period in 2017.*

Over a third of all food distributed by food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network in Northern Ireland goes to children, but there is extra financial pressure during the holiday period for families who are entitled to free school meals during term time.

The figures come against a backdrop of rising food bank use in Northern Ireland. In 2018-19, food bank use escalated throughout the year with a 13% total increase, prompting concerns that this summer will be the Trussell Trust network’s busiest to date. Ahead of schools breaking up this week, the Trussell Trust is urging people check what items their local food bank is most in need of.

While these donations are vital for helping families during the next two months, the charity has stressed food banks are not a long-term solution, and more must be done to ensure people have enough money for essentials like food.

The Trussell Trust believes tackling delays and gaps in benefits, which affect families’ ability to afford essentials, should be treated as a priority by the Government. The most immediate relief for thousands of people would be to end the five week wait for a first Universal Credit payment, a key driver of increased need at food banks in the charity’s network.

Dave Magill, Operations Manager for Northern Ireland at the Trussell Trust, explains:

“Food banks do all they can to help families in Northern Ireland over the summer and many run holiday clubs to support parents who find that their income simply won’t stretch to meet the extra pressure of missing free school meals or paying for extra childcare. But no charity can replace the dignity of having enough money for the basics.

“Ultimately, we should all be protected from needing a food bank’s help, no matter the time of the year. We know Northern Ireland is already on a cliff-edge with less than a year to go before we see the extra protections currently available to people under our benefits system come to an end. We have real concerns that unless these protections are preserved, families will continue to struggle not just during the school holidays but all year round.

“If we are to end hunger in Northern Ireland, we need to make sure everyone is anchored from being swept into poverty. The Government needs to ensure benefit payments reflect the true cost of living and work is secure, paying the real Living Wage, which would help eliminate the need for a food bank parcel altogether. Food banks cannot, and must not, be a long term to solution to hunger.”

Ends

Contact:

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

Notes to Editor

There are 38 food bank centres in the Trussell Trust’s network in Northern Ireland.

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

  • ‘Emergency food parcel’: three days’ emergency food for one person. These statistics are a measure of volume rather than unique individuals. Recent analysis shows on average people need around two food bank referrals in a year. More information about the way this data is gathered and what it can and can’t show here.

About the Trussell Trust:

  • We’re here to end the need for food banks in the UK
  • We support a UK-wide network of more than 1,200 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/
  • You can read more about our work at trusselltrust.org

 

Food parcels to adults and children for summer holidays 2017 Food parcels to adults and children for summer holidays 2018 % change 2017-2018
Northern Ireland Adults 2,524 2,743 8.7%
Children 1,632 1,758 7.7%
Total 4,156 4,501 8.3%

*Number of food parcels to adults and children for the summer holidays

 

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Scottish food banks fear busiest summer ever is ahead

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New figures released by the Trussell Trust reveal 21% increase in emergency food parcels for children in Scotland last summer

The Trussell Trust is urging the public to donate food to their local food bank, as new figures show 6,551 food parcels went to children in Scotland during the six weeks of the school summer holidays in 2018, a 21% increase on the same period in 2017.*

Over a third of all emergency food parcels distributed by Scottish food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network go to children, but there is extra financial pressure during the holiday period for families who are entitled to free school meals during term time.

The figures come against a backdrop of soaring food bank use in Scotland. In 2018-19, food bank use escalated throughout the year with a 23% total increase, and it is expected this trend will continue, prompting concerns that this summer will be the Trussell Trust network’s busiest to date. Ahead of schools breaking up this week, the Trussell Trust is urging people check what items their local food bank is most in need of.

While these donations are vital for helping families during the next six weeks, the charity has stressed food banks are not a long-term solution, and more must be done to ensure people have enough money for essentials like food.

The Trussell Trust believes tackling delays and gaps in benefits, which affect families’ ability to afford essentials, should be treated as a priority by the Government. The most immediate relief for thousands of people would be to end the five week wait for a first Universal Credit payment, a key driver of increased need at food banks in the charity’s network.

Laura Ferguson, Operations Manager for Scotland at the Trussell Trust, explains:

“No charity can replace the dignity of having enough money for the basics. But more and more families across Scotland are struggling to make ends meet, unable to afford food and facing hunger as a result. This isn’t right.

“Food banks do all they can to help families over the summer, with many running holiday clubs to support parents who find that their income simply won’t stretch to meet the extra pressure of missing free school meals or paying for extra childcare during the holidays.

“But ultimately, we should all be protected from needing a food bank’s help, no matter the time of the year. If we are to end hunger in Scotland, we need to make sure everyone is anchored from being swept into poverty. The Government needs to ensure benefit payments reflect the true cost of living and work is secure, paying the real Living Wage, which would help eliminate the need for a food bank parcel altogether.

“While it’s great to see the Scottish Government pledging to tackle holiday hunger, food banks and other emergency food provision cannot, and must not, be a long term to solution to poverty.”

Ends

Contact:

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

Notes to Editor

There are 135 food bank centres in the Trussell Trust’s network in Scotland.

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

  • ‘Emergency food parcel’: three days’ emergency food for one person. These statistics are a measure of volume rather than unique individuals. Recent analysis shows on average people need around two food bank referrals in a year. More information about the way this data is gathered and what it can and can’t show here.

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 1,200 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/
  • You can read more about our work at trusselltrust.org

 

Food parcels to adults and children for summer holidays 2017 Food parcels to adults and children for summer holidays 2018 % change 2017-2018
Scotland Adults 12,066 14,204 17.7%
Children 5,412 6,551 21.0%
Total 17,478 20,755 18.7%

*Number of food parcels to adults and children for the summer holidays

 

 

 

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The Trussell Trust & StepChange debt charity join forces to call for solution to 5 week wait for Universal Credit

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As MPs debate Universal Credit and debt, StepChange Debt Charity and the Trussell Trust join forces to highlight how the Government’s ‘solution’ to the five week wait is pushing people into further hardship

A new joint report from StepChange Debt Charity and the Trussell Trust shows that Advance Payments – the loans people can apply for while they wait at least five weeks for Universal Credit push people into hardship and therefore are not the solution to the wait. The report is published ahead of MPs debating Universal Credit and debt this Wednesday afternoon.

A quarter of all Universal Credit claimants had payments reduced by above 20% in order to pay back a debt, including Advance Payments.* Four in ten were paying over 10%. The report found that these reductions are hugely significant for people on low incomes, especially when their benefit payments are designed to provide only a minimum amount to live on. A deduction of just 5% would push nearly half of StepChange clients on benefits into a negative budget situation, meaning they wouldn’t have enough money to cover essential costs.

Previous research among StepChange clients who had money taken from benefits to repay debt  showed 71% saying it caused them hardship and a quarter had cut back on food spending.  Because repayments for advances don’t take into account people’s ability to afford them, they will inevitably have a similar impact. Reductions to benefit payments can force people to need a food bank’s help – the largest and fastest-growing reason for referral to a food bank in the Trussell Trust’s network last year was benefits not covering the cost of living.

Universal Credit aims to get people into work but Advance Payment debts make it more difficult. 6 in 10 people said worrying about debt made them feel less confident about getting a promotion at work, while 15% say their debt worries led to changes in attendance such as arriving late or taking more time off.

The charities are urging the government to remove the need for bridging loans by ending the five week wait.** Garry Lemon, Director of Policy and External Affairs, the Trussell Trust, said:

“Universal Credit isn’t the poverty-fighting reform that was promised. The five week wait for a first payment is leaving many without enough money to cover the basics. Unaffordable loans and repayments aren’t the solution.

“Last year, the biggest reason for a referral to a food bank was benefit payments not covering the cost of living. It’s no surprise that taking money off these already low payments to pay back Advance Payments pulls people deeper into crisis right at the very point when support is most needed. That’s why we’ve have launched the #5WeeksTooLong campaign, and why we’re proud to work with StepChange to showcase the harmful impact the five week wait and deductions can have. The Government can’t look away any longer – they must listen, and end the wait now.”

Peter Tutton, Head of Policy at StepChange, said:

“Benefit deductions for debt repayments are leaving households short of what they need to get by, with many forced to borrow to make up the difference. With over a million people already using high cost credit to fill holes in their monthly budget, it must be a priority to not make this debt trap worse.

“Elsewhere we have seen some good commitments from Government aimed at helping people recover from financial difficulties with less harm and hardship. It makes absolutely no sense at all for this good work to be undermined by failures in the design of Universal Credit. The stakes here are very high, so StepChange is joining with the Trussell Trust to call on the Government to think again.”

Ends

Contact

The Trussell Trust media team on 020 3137 3699 or press@trusselltrust.org

Notes to Editor

The joint report from StepChange and the Trussell Trust, Hardship now, or hardship later?, can be read here.

*https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Commons/2018-11-28/196810/

** The charities are calling for the Government to remove the need for bridging loans in the short term by turning Advance Payments into non-repayable grants, and in the long term by ending the five week wait. Two key options suggested for how to end this wait:

  1. Pay Universal Credit after two weeks and pay awards fortnightly (automatically shortening the wait for a first payment by making the ‘assessment period’ for Universal Credit two weeks rather than a month).
  2. Backdate the first assessment period, so the payment date falls at the start of a claim.

 

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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.***

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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.”

Ends

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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