Food bank use hits another record high

Labour describes need for food banks as 'a shameful symbol' of government neglect


Use of food banks remains at record levels, having increased by two per cent in 2015/16.

New figures published by the Trussell Trust show that the charity provided 1,109,309 emergency food packs across its network of 424 food banks. 415,866 of these went to children.

The figures refer only to services provided by the Trussell Trust network, which is estimated to account for about half of the country’s food banks.


Image: The Trussell Trust

‘This must not become the new normal, commented Dave McAuley, Chief Executive of the Trussell Trust. ‘Reducing UK hunger will require a collective effort from the voluntary sector, Government, DWP, businesses and the public’

Data suggests that the primary reason for food bank use is delays or changes to benefits, which accounted for 42 per cent of referrals. The number of working people referred because of low income, high-living costs and difficulty accessing in-work benefits also increased in the last year.

Researchers from the University of Hull, Coppelia and AAM Associates are currently developing a food bank mapping tool. Their early findings indicate a strong correlation between food bank use in electoral wards and the percentage of the population with long term health problems or disabilities.

McAuley argues that this data demonstrates the ‘urgent need to find ways to help reduce the numbers of people experiencing problems with benefits, especially vulnerable people receiving sickness and disability benefits’.

Labour’s shadow Secretary for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Kerry McCarthy, described food bank use as ‘a shameful symbol of this Tory government’s neglect.’

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.