Foodbanks in full Universal Credit areas see 52% increase in use and are feeling the strain.

All figures are taken from the Trussell Trust’s year end report Press Release which can be found here.

The Trussell Trust is a UK based anti-poverty charity that runs a network of 428 foodbanks across the UK. They hand out emergency food parcels with enough food for 3 days to people and families who have been referred to them by agencies such as CAB.

Despite the DWP also referring people to them, they are not government funded and rely on donations and goodwill to operate. As you have seen across my twitter feed, just this week at least four of their foodbanks put out pleas for donations.

Full UC service users are feeling the strain

Shocking new analysis carried out by the charity at 38 of their foodbanks that have been in full Universal Credit (UC) roll out areas for a year or more, show a 52% increase in referrals in the 12 months following the full roll out date in their area. This has been calculated by calculating the increase of referrals over the 12 months following the go live date of the full service.

In comparison, random samples taken from 247 foodbanks that are either; not in full UC areas, or have only in full roll out areas for up to three months, showed an average increase of 13% still saddening in itself. Over 20 trials with different randomised foodbanks, the average increase was 13%.

The charity is consequently calling for benefit levels to rise in line with inflation to ensure payments keep pace with the cost of living, particularly for disabled people and families with dependent children who are particularly at risk of needing a foodbank. It is also asking for an urgent inquiry into poor administration within Universal Credit, so errors such as incorrect payments along with poor communication issues can be tackled.

Emma Revie, Chief Executive of The Trussell Trust, explains:

“As a nation we expect no one should be left hungry or destitute – illness, disability, family breakdown or the loss of a job could happen to any of us, and we owe it to each other to make sure sufficient financial support is in place when we need it most.  

“It’s hard to break free from hunger if there isn’t enough money coming in to cover the rising cost of absolute essentials like food and housing. For too many people staying above water is a daily struggle. It’s completely unacceptable that anyone is forced to turn to a foodbank as a result. 

“Universal Credit is the future of our benefits system. It’s vital we get it right,  and ensure levels of payment keep pace with the rising cost of essentials, particularly for groups of people we know are already more likely to need a foodbank – disabled people, people dealing with an illness, families with children and single parents.”

Average 13% rise across the UK in 2017 to 2018

Between 1st April 2017 and 31st March 2018, the trust’s foodbank network distributed 1,332,952* three day emergency food supplies to people who’d been referred to them by other agencies, a 13% increase on the previous year. This is a higher increase than the 2016 – 2017 financial year, when foodbank use was up by 6.64%.

Alarmingly 484,026 of these went to children. It must be noted that research suggests that Trussell Trust foodbank centres account for roughly two-thirds of all emergency food aid provision facilities in the UK: you can read more about this here, therefore, the numbers are likely to be higher still.

(Trussel Trust)

 Foodbanks Feeling The Strain.

As I;ve been reporting on twitter, foodbanks are feeling the strain and are in my opinion heading or in crisis.
Just this week I highlighted four who put out appeals for emergency donations due to running low. On this occasion I’d like to highlight Airdrie Foodbank.

Their figures show that they have had an unprecedented increase of 103% of food parcels handed out over the 2017 and 2018 financial year of which 30% of those were to children. !03% is simply unacceptable.

If the government does not accept that Universal Credit is causing problems it is only going to get worse.

Just yesterday, 23rd May 2018, The Trussell Trust’s Chief Executive Emma Revie appeared before the Work and Pensions Select Committee’s inquiry into Universal Credit roll-out.

She highlighted the Trust’s year end reports and studies mentioned above. Much of the questions related to Universal Support which, for those who don’t know, is or was meant to be an integral part of Universal Credit. One of the things it was envisaged to include was debt advice and management however it currently only offers budgeting advice and IT support. In my case I had never even heard of this.

She also said: “Our research shows that 70% of people who are in the waiting period experience going into debt as a direct result of that waiting period”.


 *Trussell Trust statistics are a measure of volume rather than unique users. Their data system can calculate the average visit frequency within a time period and shows people visited on average around two times in 2017-18, leading them to estimate that approximately 666,476 people are likely to have been unique users in this year.