“At the food bank – they’re absolutely brilliant, [but] they shouldn’t have to exist… government and organisations are relying on them too much, they pass the buck to volunteers.” – Tim
What is ‘government debt’?
As the nation faces a cost-of-living crisis and recovers from the devastating effects of the pandemic, new research shows people who cannot afford the essentials are being pushed deeper into poverty by a rising tide of government debt.
This debt can take many forms, including paying back Advance Payments given to people on Universal Credit to cover the five-week wait for their first benefit payment, paying back council tax debt to local authorities, repaying benefit overpayments, and more. Sometimes some of these are referred to as deductions from benefits, but here we are primarily calling them debt.
Nearly half of people referred to food banks in the Trussell Trust network are in debt to the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions – the department responsible for social security).
People who have experience of being in debt to government have been working closely with the Trussell Trust and Humankind Research, to develop ideas for what a fairer repayment system might look like.
Here are four key things we’ve learnt: