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Foodbanks handed out half a million emergency supplies in six months

Published 18/11/2015

Delays and changes to benefits are the main reason people visited foodbanks, the Trussell Trust has said
Delays and changes to benefits are the main reason people visited foodbanks, the Trussell Trust has said

More than half a million emergency supplies were handed out at Trussell Trust foodbanks in the six months to September, showing that hunger is still a "major concern" for low income families.

A total of 506,369 three-day emergency food supplies were given to people, a 3% increase on the same period last year.

Around 300,000 people visited the foodbanks during the six months, with many saying they had skipped meals.

The Trust, which runs 425 foodbanks across the country, said delays and changes to benefits were the main reason people visited them.

The numbers seeking emergency food supplies remained "worryingly high", said the Trust.

UK foodbank director Adrian Curtis said: " We look forward to the day that we can announce a decrease in numbers needing foodbanks, and we welcome the fact that latest national figures show a less dramatic rise.

"Whilst we hope that this is a sign that economic recovery is giving more people access to secure work, several foodbanks are reporting that some agencies and charities who would normally refer people in crisis to foodbanks have been unable to do so because funding reductions have caused their services to be squeezed or closed.

"We're seeing that hunger remains a major issue for low income families and individuals. When the proposed changes to tax credits are implemented, we are concerned that more working families will not be able to make ends meet, and that we could see a substantial rise in foodbank use as a result.

"As a nation we need to learn more about the realities of life for people struggling on low incomes and make sure that no incomes are too low to live on."

Trussell Trust chief executive David McAuley said: 'We are investing in additional services at foodbanks that help people to break out of crisis faster, and we're seeing really positive results from this. In one foodbank, after two months, over 90% of clients receiving help from their debt and money advice service had either resolved their issues or were close to having done so.

"But responsibility for helping people out of crisis must not rest with the voluntary sector alone, which is why we also need to see more high-level policy changes that help the poorest and reduce the number of people needing foodbanks in future."

Steve Turner, Unite assistant general secretary, said: "More people than ever face the desperate choice between heating and eating this winter thanks to the rise of low-paid insecure work and the Government's draconian changes to our social security system.

"Soaring foodbank use will continue to be a shameful stain on this government's record if George Osborne gets his way in cutting tax credits while hiding behind the spin of a 'national living wage'.

"If he is serious about helping low-paid workers and those experiencing hard times, then he will drop his tax credit cuts and vow to introduce the higher 'real living wage' for everyone."

A Government spokesman said: "Britain has a proud tradition of volunteering and of civil society and faith groups providing support to vulnerable people - and this Government welcomes that.

"We know that the reasons for foodbank use are complex and often overlapping, so it is misleading to claim that it is driven by benefit delays.

"The vast majority of benefits are paid on time, and improvements are being made year on year."

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