‘The current amount of Universal Credit people are receiving has no bearing on basic human needs.’
The Trussell Trust and Joseph Rowntree Foundation are calling for political leaders to commit to an ‘Essentials Guarantee’ in their 2024 election manifestos. The guarantee would ensure that the basic rate of Universal Credit covers the living essentials, such as food and household bills.
A letter co-authored by the anti-poverty charities to political leaders, notes how one in seven people in the UK face hunger due to not having enough money. In 2023, the Trussell Trust, the UK’s largest food bank provider, handed out nearly 3 million emergency food parcels. The letter warns how food banks are ‘at breaking point.’
“The biggest driver of food bank need is the failure of our social security system to protect people from going without the essentials,” the letter states.
It continues how Britain is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, yet people are being forced to go without the essentials needed to get by. The charities warn that more and more people are struggling to make ends meet, because Universal Credit is “falling short.”
Emma Revie, Trussell Trust chief executive said: “In a general election year, it’s vital that all political parties listen to the public and show they understand the impossible situations faced by people experiencing hunger in this country. Action needs to be taken.
“The wide range of people coming together to sign the open letter reflects the nationwide consensus on this issue, and we collectively urge political leaders to do the right thing and include an Essentials Guarantee in their manifestos later this year.”
Liam Gallagher, Ed Sheeran, Stephen Fry, Bishop Mike Royal and Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen are among the celebrities and faith leaders who have signed the open letter demanding politicians address the issue of poverty in Britain.
The charities’ petition calling on UK political party leaders to support the introduction of an Essentials Guarantee within Universal Credit to ensure that the basic rates covers essential living costs, can be signed here.
“The current amount of Universal Credit people are receiving has no bearing on basic human needs. It is meant to be a safety net, but this net is full of very big holes, which people are falling through thick and fast and ending up in crisis,” said Ian Oulton, Trustee of the West Cheshire Food Bank.
Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward