Party conference and the Universal Credit cut: The Chancellor would do well to listen to his own party members ​

Share this:

By Sumi Rabindrakumar, Head of Policy & Research

Party conferences are usually full of slogans; at the Trussell Trust, we try to push political parties to put some meaning behind them. This year, at Labour and Conservative party conferences, we discussed how we can end the need for food banks, drawing on frontline experience from experts in our network, lessons from the pandemic, and insight across levels of government. After another record number of emergency food parcels provided across the UK (a shocking 2.5 million in our network), we urgently need action.  

Read more

“We are one step away from food banks and working consistently to keep our heads above the rising tide.”

Share this:

By Alex, who will be hit by the £20 cut to Universal Credit if the Government goes ahead with their plans 

The numbers around the impact of the planned cut to Universal Credit are, by now, more familiar; 1.2 million people could be forced to skip meals, 1.3 million people could struggle to heat their homes this winter and 900,000 people tell us they’re very likely not to have enough money to travel to work or make essential trips like medical appointments. But behind these stats are the people who live in our communities, who will feel the devastating impact of the cut. 

Alex and his wife applied for Universal Credit when his job came to a complete standstill during the pandemic and his wife’s mental health deteriorated. Since then, they have been struggling to stay afloat and have skipped meals to be able to feed their son. 

Read more

The public wants us to keep the Universal Credit lifeline: the Prime Minister and the Chancellor should listen

Share this:

By Sumi Rabindrakumar, Head of Policy and Research

Over a million people fear they will be forced to skip meals and switch off their heating this winter if the UK government goes ahead with its plan to cut Universal Credit payments by £20 a week next month. 

That’s one of the many alarming figures coming from the Trussell Trust’s new findings based on YouGov polling. These findings are the latest in escalating concerns from all quarters – MPs across the political parties, national governments across the UK, doctors, frontline workers, and – of course – Universal Credit claimants. Wave after wave of letters, research, and lived experience all point to the same conclusion: the cut to Universal Credit will be a devastating blow for the millions of households struggling to make ends meet. 

Today’s new data lays bare the full impact of the impending cut. Faced with a cut of £20 a week, 1.2 million people (20%) claiming Universal Credit say they will very likely need to skip meals and 1.3 million (21%) say they will very likely be unable to afford to heat their homes this winter. Nearly a million (900,000, 15%) say they are very likely to need to use a food bank as a result of the cut. 

These worries are being felt by people across the UK, in all nations, and all regions. If the UK government is serious about its intention that ‘as far as possible everyone everywhere feels the benefits’ of recovery, No. 10 and No. 11 Downing Street should be worried too. 

It is worrying that constituents in regions targeted for the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda are especially likely to fear they will struggle to meet their basic needs. In the North East of England, for example, people are nearly twice as likely to fear they won’t be able to heat their homes this winter compared with the average UC claimant in the UK (30% vs. 21%). They are a third more likely than average to fear they will need to use a food bank (20% vs. 15%) and skip meals (28% vs 20%) if the cut goes ahead. 

It is worrying that a mere one in five people from today’s polling believe our social security system provides enough support to people with physical or mental health conditions, days after the government launches its health and disability green paper exploring “how the welfare system can better meet the needs of disabled people and people with health conditions”. 

It is worrying that – as the government attempts to set out a jobs-led recovery – the cut will mostly affect working people, and today’s poll shows nearly a million (900,000, 15%) people say they are very likely to not have enough money to travel to work or essential appointments by public transport if the cut goes ahead. 

As the record numbers of emergency food parcels provided by food banks in the Trussell Trust network and beyond show, families across the UK are already caught in impossible situations. Today’s polling shows that over three-quarters (77%) of current Universal Credit claimants are struggling to keep up with bills and credit commitments. Well over a million have cut back on food for at least a day (1.9 million, 32%) and gone without basic toiletries (1.4 million, 23%) because they couldn’t afford them in the last 30 days. Imposing the biggest overnight cut to the basic rate of social security since World War II risks pulling families with precarious finances further under. 

This isn’t right – and it doesn’t have to be like this. We do not need to inflict immediate hardship on people already struggling to stay afloat. We do not need to push more families through the doors of food banks. If we are to ‘build back better’, we all need the security and stability of a strong lifeline – because, as the pandemic has shown, life is full of things for which we cannot plan.  

The UK public knows this – today’s findings show that, even including the undecided, a majority supports making the increase permanent. People are twice as likely to support keeping the increase than oppose it. It is clear: our social security system must at the very least provide people on low incomes with enough money to cover the essentials in life – like food and heating. The UK government must keep the lifeline this October. 

We are four weeks away from Universal Credit being cut – we need your help now. Email your MP to support the #KeepTheLifeline campaign, and ask them to tell the Prime Minister and the Chancellor to keep the £20 increase to Universal Credit and extend it to people receiving ‘legacy’ benefits.


Read more

Why writing to your MP can help us keep the lifeline  

Share this:

By Rory Weal, Policy and Public Affairs Manager

September is here, and as the kids go back to school and MPs return from their summer recess, the government has a big decision hurtling down the tracks: will they stick to their guns and cut Universal Credit by £20 a week this October, or keep this vital lifeline and keep people afloat? 

Food banks across the Trussell Trust network know just how vital the extra £20 on Universal Credit has been. It could be the difference between people being able to get by or cut back on vital essentials, like food, clothing and heating. Removing it risks plunging tens of thousands into destitution. That’s why the Trussell Trust is supporting the Keep the Lifeline campaign, and asking you to write to your MP. 

Read more

Millions of people turn to food banks in latest evidence of food insecurity

Share this:

By Emily Spoor, Research Officer

New figures out today show that almost one in three people whose only income was through social security had been to a food bank in the previous year – these figures more than highlight that now is not the time to cut £20 a week from their income.  

This new evidence, collected between November 2020 and January 2021, showed that one in 12 (7%) people aged 16 and over in England, Wales and Northern Ireland had used a food bank in the previous year – representing almost three and a half million people.  

This new data from the Food and You survey shows that far too many people are being let down by the benefit system. Our social security system should protect people from being pulled into poverty and be strong enough to pull people out – but in reality the benefit system forces too many to go without essentials such as food. 

Read more

The State of Hunger: Our housing crisis is driving people to food banks

Share this:

By Tom Weeks, Research Manager at the Trussell Trust

Today, as part of the State of Hunger blog series, we are exploring how issues with housing can drive people to food banks.

With over 95,000 households living in temporary accommodation at the end of March 2021, today’s English homelessness statistics highlight the scale of the housing emergency we are facing. Despite the eviction ban (in place until the end of May 2021), in the first three months of 2021 alone over 36,500 households presented to their local council and were found to be homeless.  

Read more

State of Hunger: It’s not right that growing numbers of migrants without access to benefits are being forced to turn to food banks 

Share this:

By Rosie Sourbut, public affairs assistant at the Trussell Trust

Last week, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Ending the Need for Food Banks ran a joint event with the APPG on Immigration Law and Policy.

The groups  discussed the links between destitution, food bank use and No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF)  which is when migrants are not allowed to access the benefits system.  

Read more

Together for change with the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation

Share this:

By Crispin Shingler, corporate partnerships manager at the Trussell Trust

Our vision is for a UK without the need for food banks.

We say this because it’s not right that anyone can’t afford their own food. That’s why we’re working towards a just, compassionate future, where no one should have to use a food bank to get by.

Here at the Trussell Trust, we are proud to continue to partner with Sodexo through its Stop Hunger Foundation, which believes quality of life begins when basic needs are met.

Since 2017 we have been sharing similar principles and working together to support food banks in the Trussell Trust network to help people and families during times of financial crisis.

We are thrilled by the enthusiasm Sodexo has shown towards our Together for Change strategy and belief in our vision.

Read more

The State of Hunger: It’s not right that disabled people are being forced to turn to food banks

Share this:

By Thomas Weekes, research manager at the Trussell Trust

This State of Hunger blog series digs into the reasons why people are forced to turn to food banks for support. Today we look at the link between disability and food bank use

More than six in ten (62%) working-age people referred to food banks in early 2020 were disabled.

That alone is shocking, but when you understand that it is more than three times the rate in the general population it is damning.

Read more

The State of Hunger: the debt crisis facing households at food banks

Share this:

This is the third blog in our series looking at the State of Hunger (2021), diving into key themes arising from the landmark study, and looking at their impact in focus. 

As our previous blogs have shown (here and here), people need to turn to food banks when they are forced to live on extremely low incomes. One of the many consequences of this, is the very high level of debt among people needing to turn to food banks. This creates a vicious circle for those individuals and families living on very low incomes who are forced to take on debt to pay for the essentials, with that debt in turn keeping them locked them in poverty.  

Read more