Blog

Budget 2021: Rishi Sunak misses opportunity to strengthen social security and protect people from poverty

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Blog by Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust

We are almost a year on from the beginning of a devastating pandemic which has taken away people’s lives and livelihoods.

We have seen a monumental rise in levels of serious hardship, record levels of need across our network of food banks and a vast number of people coming to food banks for the first time in their lives.

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The Universal Credit uplift must remain in place

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By Emily Spoor, Research Officer

This week, new benefit statistics show the huge scale of the economic impact of the pandemic. Almost 6 million people are now receiving Universal Credit (UC), up from 2.7 million in January last year and 3 million at the start of the pandemic. This doubling means that around one in seven working-age adults in Great Britain are now receiving support from UC.

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Support from Papa John’s reaches £500,000

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In April 2020, we launched a new partnership with Papa John’s and we’re thrilled to announce that their support has now raised an incredible £500,000.

By fundraising on their website for us throughout 2020, Papa John’s have been able to help us make sure food banks can continue to provide emergency support in their communities, as well as work towards building a better future – one where no one need to turn to charity to get by.

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The real impact of removing the Universal Credit uplift

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“I simply don’t know how I’d manage without it” – people share their experiences of the £20 uplift and the risks of taking it away.

By Emily Spoor, Research Officer

 

In April 2020, as the UK was hit by the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the UK Government made the crucial step of increasing the Universal Credit Standard Allowance and Working Tax Credit by £20 per week – worth more than £1,000 a year to a household. This decision has offered people dignity during the crisis and prevented tens of thousands from needing to seek help to feed themselves and their family.

Our new research, conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Trussell Trust, shows that the uplift has provided vital breathing space to hard-pressed budgets, with seven in ten (72%) people on Universal Credit since early 2020 saying the increase has made it easier to afford essentials. The risks of removing the uplift are also clear, as one in five people we surveyed think it’s very likely they’ll need support from a food bank if the removal goes ahead as planned.

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Removing the Universal Credit uplift will put millions at risk of hunger

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By Rory Weal, Policy and Public Affairs Manager

Removing the uplift to Universal Credit will put millions at risk of hunger – the UK Government must do the right thing.

We are coming through one of the most testing winters in our modern history. With the vaccine roll-out developing at a pace, and the days getting longer, there are reasons to muster optimism. But one look at the jobless figures will bring anyone firmly down to earth. 

Six million people are currently claiming Universal Credit. As the furlough scheme winds down from the Spring, that number is set to rise even further. The Office for Budget Responsibility does not expect unemployment to fall to pre-crisis levels until 2024. At the same time, need for food banks has hit record levels and shows few signs of waning. 

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Hunger Free Future: the campaign so far

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In November 2020, we launched an ambitious campaign to create change – to build a movement of people who will work alongside the Trussell Trust to create a hunger free future.

In the first six months of the pandemic, food banks in the Trussell Trust network gave out a staggering 1.2 million emergency food parcels. That’s one food parcel every 13 seconds, and 2,600 of these went to children every day on average.

Over the past year, we’ve all made incredible changes to the ways we live, work, and look after each other. And in the past few months, we’ve seen amazing compassion and concern for families, children, and people in crisis – with food banks, community groups, and others stepping up to help.

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A village bands together to push for a Hunger Free Future

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Our campaign engagement officer, Hannah Mae Trow, explains how one village has pulled together to push for a #HungerFreeFuture in the lead up to this Christmas. 

 This year has been incredibly difficult for so many people across the country. We’ve all been hit by something unexpected and outside of our control, and for thousands of us that has meant not having enough money for the basics. Food banks in our network have seen more people than ever before being forced to them for support. This isn’t right.  

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How people who have used Manchester Foodbank and the team there are pushing for change together

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Lauren Tunnicliffe, project manager of Manchester Central Foodbank, shares more about Can You Hear Me Now?, a listening campaign and creative participation project that is bringing people who have used the food bank together with the food bank team to push for longer term change. 

 “Changing the world is a big job, but this is a great place to start.”

During the recent US election the topics of voter suppression and the disenfranchisement of minority groups and poor voters were often at the forefront of the conversation. But US politics is not the only place where people who are experiencing poverty and destitution are prevented from being able to ask for what they need. From working at Manchester Central Foodbank we know that people here in Manchester without enough money are denied the autonomy and confidence to advocate for themselves in every aspect of their daily lives. On top of this, those creating anti-poverty strategies have historically been slow to catch on to the fact that they should be led by the voices and expertise of people they are supposed to be helping. We know now that in order to demand change and erase the need for food banks, we must be driven by those who have experienced that need.

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The Long Read: Millions of people are experiencing destitution – why, and what can we do about it?

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Our series of blogs deep-diving into what’s happening in food banks continues, as Research Manager Tom Weekes delves into today’s new report on destitution from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. 

Destitution. A word that conjures images of complete poverty, something that surely couldn’t happen in a modern society? Yet todays shocking release by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) reminds us that not only is destitution common across the UK, it is a fast-growing problem.  

This is something that food banks in the Trussell Trust network will unfortunately be well aware of. Food banks have long been at the frontline of destitution  our latest data shows that 94 per cent of people referred to food banks in our network were classed as destitute. 

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Help us raise £1 million to ensure no one struggles to afford the basics, this Christmas and beyond

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This week we have exciting news –  a small group of incredibly generous supporters has offered to match any donations given to the Trussell Trust between today and Christmas, up to a total of £500,000 

This is an extraordinary opportunity to raise £1 million over the next few weeks – with every pound being used to build a better Christmas and a Hunger Free Future for families across the UK.  

Please donate today.

This couldn’t have come at a more vital time. Food banks in our network are set to be busier than ever this winter, and could give out an emergency food parcel every 9 seconds to people across our country 

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