· Numbers given emergency food 100,000 higher than anticipated
· UK Foodbank charity The Trussell Trust says this must be a wake-up call to the nation
Rising cost of living, static incomes, changes to benefits, underemployment and unemployment have meant increasing numbers of people in the UK have hit a crisis that forces them to go hungry. This dramatic rise in foodbank usage predates April’s welfare reforms, which could see numbers increase further in 2013-14.
346,992 people received a minimum of three days emergency food from Trussell Trust foodbanks in 2012-13, compared to 128,697 in 2011-12 and up from 26,000 in 2008-09. Of those helped in 2012-13, 126,889 (36.6 percent) were children.
The Trussell Trust has seen a 76% increase in the number of foodbanks launched since April 2012 but has seen a 170% increase in numbers of people given emergency food. Well-established foodbanks that have been running for several years are showing significant rises in numbers helped during the last 12 months. Christian charity The Trussell Trust is launching three new foodbanks every week to help meet demand and has launched 345 UK foodbanks in partnership with churches and communities to date.
Trussell Trust Executive Chairman Chris Mould says:
‘The sheer volume of people who are turning to foodbanks because they can’t afford food is a wake-up call to the nation that we cannot ignore the hunger on our doorstep. Politicians across the political spectrum urgently need to recognise the real extent of UK food poverty and create fresh policies that better address its underlying causes. This is more important than ever as the impact of the biggest reforms to the welfare state since it began start to take effect. Since April 1st we have already seen increasing numbers of people in crisis being sent to foodbanks with nowhere else to go.’
‘Last year The Trussell Trust estimated that our foodbanks would help 250,000 people in 2012-13, we’ve helped 100,000 more than that. 2012-13 was much tougher for people than many anticipated. Incomes are being squeezed to breaking point. We’re seeing people from all kinds of backgrounds turning to foodbanks: working people coming in on their lunch-breaks, mums who are going hungry to feed their children, people whose benefits have been delayed and people who are struggling to find enough work. It’s shocking that people are going hungry in 21st century Britain.’
Only four per cent of people turned to foodbanks due to homelessness; 30% were referred due to benefit delay; 18% low income and 15% benefit changes (up from 11% in 2011-12). Other reasons included domestic violence, sickness, refused crisis loans, debt and unemployment. The majority of people turning to foodbanks were working age families.
Over 15,000 frontline care professionals such as doctors, social workers, schools liaison officers and Jobcentre Plus referred their clients to foodbanks in 2012-13. Foodbanks are community driven with an estimated 30,000 volunteers giving their time across the UK. Over 3,400 tonnes of food was donated by the public in 2012-13. Chris Mould adds: ‘Whilst it’s deeply concerning that so many people are facing hunger in the UK, the evident willingness of the public to help their neighbours through foodbanks has prevented thousands of crises escalating into disaster. We regularly hear people say that ‘the foodbank saved my life’ and it’s local communities that make that possible.’