UK foodbank use is still at record levels

The Trussell Trust estimates that between April and September, approximately 298,000 people visited foodbanks

 

Data released by foodbank charity The Trussell Trust today shows that foodbank use in the UK is still at a record high.

In the first six months of 2015/16, Trussell Trust foodbanks gave 3 per cent more emergency food supplies to people than during the same period last year.

Between April and September 2015, Trussell Trust foodbanks across the UK gave 506,369 three day emergency food supplies to people in crisis compared to 492,641 in the same period last year. 185,218 of the three day supplies went to children.

On average, people needed 1.7 foodbank referrals in this six month period, leading the charity to estimate that approximately 298,000 people are likely to have been unique users.

Benefit delays (29 per cent) and changes (14 per cent) remain the biggest cause of foodbank use, accounting for 43 percent of total, a slight reduction on last.  Low income is responsible for 22 per cent of referrals, up from 21 per cent last year.

UK foodbank director Adrian Curtis suggested that the actual figures may be even higher, as many of the agencies and charities which refer people to foodbanks are reporting that funding restrictions have squeezed or closed their services. Curtis also warned that planned changes to tax credits could make the problem worse:

“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.”

There is also likely to be a significant rise in numbers of people needing foodbanks when the weather gets colder, as people on low incomes are forced to choose between eating and heating.

In December 2014, referrals to foodbanks were 53 per cent higher than the average across other months, with over 130,000 three day food supplies being given to people in crisis in just one month.

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward

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