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Our response: Universal Credit helpline will be free by the end of the month

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This morning David Gauke, Secretary of State for the Department for Work & Pensions, announced the Universal Credit helpline will be free by the end of the month, and all DWP helplines will be free by end of the year.

Here’s our response:

“Since our Early Warnings report in April, The Trussell Trust has consistently highlighted the impact of the cost of the Universal Credit helpline – a foodbank in our network even reported they had installed new phones in their centre because people referred to them couldn’t afford to call the helpline from home.

“We therefore welcome David Gauke’s announcement today that there will be no charge for calling this helpline by the end of this month, and for all DWP helplines by the end of the year. This is a sensible first step in starting to address some of the issues with Universal Credit seen by Trussell Trust foodbanks, but their experience tells us that there are other significant barriers that still need to be addressed to prevent people affected by Universal Credit issues from needing a foodbank.”

Garry Lemon, Head of Media & External Affairs

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‘Live Below the Line’ Challenge

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Staff at EsriUK in Aylesbury are supporting Aylesbury Foodbank by challenging themselves to live on £1 a day for food and drink for 5 consecutive days between 9th and 19th January.

They will donate the money they would have spent on food and drink to the foodbank and EsriUK have generously offered to match fund whatever they raise.

Some members of staff have decided just to donate their weekly food budget and EsriUK will be match funding that as well.

“Esri UK staff were keen to do something to help people in need in the local community and to raise awareness. When I found out about the ‘Live below the line’ challenge it seemed a great way to raise funds for Aylesbury Foodbank and to help local people”

said Ben Flanagan, Esri UK.

Heather-Joy Garrett, Aylesbury Foodbank Co-ordinator said:

‘We’re thrilled that the staff at EsriUK have chosen to support us in this way – living on a £1 a day for all food and drink isn’t an easy thing to do. As all our food is donated (with collection points at Waitrose and Holy Trinity Church’ all the money they raise will go towards supporting our running costs this year’.

EsriUK staff already support the foodbank by packing boxes after work one evening a fortnight.

Could you live on £1 a day? Challenge your company or friends to try.

Aylesbury foodbank has helped over 250 households by supplying a three-day food parcel since it opened in April 2016. Aylesbury foodbank is part of the Trussell Trust national network of foodbanks. It was set up and will be supported for 3 years by the Mid Bucks Association, a local Christian trust (Registered Charity No 212634)

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Letter from London Foodbanks

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Tackling poverty and hunger in London will be a pressing challenge for whoever is elected on 5 May.  Latest figures published by The Trussell Trust show a 5 per cent rise in foodbank use in the capital, with 110,000 three-day emergency food supplies given to people in crisis in the last year. Increasingly food banks are providing additional services that help people break out of crisis faster, and reduce the need for repeat referrals.  As one visitor to a food bank said:

“You’re only two missed pay checks away from being in poverty. Just five minutes to breathe can really make all the difference, that’s why food banks are such a lifeline.”

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