Research & Advocacy

We share the experience of people helped by foodbanks and our social enterprises with governing administrations across the UK, to engage decision makers with the realities of poverty.

Our policy asks

We have a strong focus on practical solutions to poverty. Our policy asks are rooted in evidence gathered from our foodbank network’s day to day experiences of helping people in poverty and practical advice given by our project managers.

We are particularly interested in ensuring the UK has a robust welfare safety net and work that pays enough to keep people out of poverty.

Research recommendations:

Delays or changes to a person’s benefit are two of the biggest causes of referral to a foodbank. In many cases, these are down to problems with the way the Department for Work and Pensions administers benefits. Many of these can be avoided and we are asking the Government to help by implementing all the recommendations in the Emergency Use Only report;

  1. Improve access to and increase awareness of short-term benefit advances
  2. Reform sanctions policy and practice
  3. Improve the ESA regime: ensure claimants are not left without income whilst challenging a decision
  4. Sustain and improve access to emergency financial support through Local Welfare Assistance Schemes and the Scottish Welfare Fund.
  5. Ensure Jobcentres provide an efficient and supportive service for all clients.
  6. Improve Jobcentre Plus Advisers’ awareness of, and ability to respond to, mental health problems.
  7. Improve access to appropriate advice and support

Evidence and research

To  come to these recommendations we’ve partnered with academics, charities, policy experts and drawn upon the experiences of foodbank clients and project managers to find practical solutions to tackle hunger.

  • In July 2017 we released A Local Jigsaw: A Study into Local Welfare Assistance Schemes and Foodbanks in order to share best practice and identify areas for improving local service provision to help people experiencing financial crisis.
  • June 2017 saw the publication of the single biggest nationwide study on foodbank use to date, an 18-month research project from the University of Oxford commissioned by The Trussell Trust. Data collected on demographics, income levels, living conditions, health and food insecurity provides unparalleled new detail about both the circumstances of people referred to foodbanks and the key drivers of foodbank use.
  • In April 2017 we published our report Early Warnings: Universal Credit and Foodbanks, shedding light on some of the impacts of the transition to Universal Credit. We used the findings to suggest practical ways in which any adverse side effects of Universal Credit roll out could be mitigated.
  • In October 2016 research from the University of Oxford identified a ‘strong dynamic relationship’ between benefit sanctioning and foodbank use. Analysis of four years of Trussell Trust foodbank data found that as the rate of sanctioning increased, so did the rate of foodbank use – an increase in 10 Jobseeker’s Allowance sanctions per 100,000 adults was associated with five more adults needing foodbanks.
  • In 2013/14 our joint paper Below the Breadline was written with Church Action on Poverty and The Trussell Trust and sought to measure the extent of food poverty across the UK for the first time and the links to problems with the welfare safety net.
  • In 2014 we worked with the Church of England, Child Poverty Action Group and Oxfam on a groundbreaking report, Emergency Use Only. This identified a number of problems with the benefits system contributing to an increase in foodbank use.
  • Our evidence submission to Work & Pensions Select Committee Inquiry into sanctions, in December 2014 detailed some of the harmful effects of the regime on foodbank clients.
  • Our evidence submission to the Work & Pensions select committee inquiry into welfare delivery in September 2015 detailed some of the problems with the benefits system that have persisted, as well as new issues relating to delays and changes to benefits which are driving food bank use.

External report recommendations:

We contributed to the APPG on Hunger’s Inquiry into Holiday Hunger. Read our submission here.

We’re pleased to regularly input into the work of All Party Parliamentary Group on Hunger’s Feeding Britain inquiry and continue to work closely with members of the committee. Read about our responses to the reports in 2014 and 2015.

In particular we support calls for improvements to benefits delivery, raising the minimum wage and encouraging more firms to adopt the living wage, all of which would help tackle poverty and hunger.

We support the recommendations of the Welsh Poverty Inquiry Report.

For specific research enquiries please contact:

We’re a small team with limited capacity and receive a high volume of enquiries, so please bear with us – we will do our best to respond as soon as possible.