More than 1,000,000 emergency food packages distributed to children | UK News
As of March, nearly three million emergency food parcels had been distributed to food banks, with the number for children surpassing one million for the first time.
The Trussell Trust charity’s record figures represent a 37% increase over the previous year.
A total of 2,986,203 emergency food parcels were distributed between April 2022 and March this year – the most food parcels in the charity’s UK network ever distributed in a single year.
The number is more than double the amount distributed by food banks in the same period five years ago, the charity said.
Around 1,139,553 packages were distributed for children, up from 835,879 the previous year and an increase of less than 500,000 in 2017–2018.
In a sign of mounting hardship amid the cost of living crisis, the charity says, more than 760,000 people – more than the population of Sheffield at the last census – used a plaque on the network for the first time.
This was a 38% increase in first-time users compared to the same period last year.
The charity said the need was greater than in the first year of the pandemic and that demand was particularly high in December, with a packet being distributed across the country by staff and volunteers every eight seconds.
The Trussell Trust said the problem was “not a regionalised problem”, with an increase of at least 28% in every area of the UK – with the highest in north-east England, where there was a 54% increase in the number of parcels being distributed compared to last year .
Brian Thomas, chief executive of South Tyneside Foodbank, said the “unprecedented surge” in food bank users combined with unmatched food donations has resulted in a “real pressure cooker situation”.
Of the four nations, Wales saw the highest increase at 41%, followed by England at 37%, Scotland at 30% and Northern Ireland at 29%.
Within English regions, the east of England recorded the second highest increase after the north east at 45%, followed by the south west at 42%.
The charity said it is now the case that needs across the network “far outweigh the donations we’ve received,” meaning food banks themselves need to buy more food and find more storage space for storage.
It says food banks will also need to extend their hours to accommodate workers who need to access their emergency support around their work patterns.
The charity calls on the government to make a long-term commitment to ensure benefit rates are always sufficient to afford essentials and calls for the principle of universal minimum credit to be enshrined in law to protect people from forgoing essentials .
The organization also said the government should establish a long-term strategy for local crisis support and commit to a multi-year funding arrangement.
Emma Revie, the trust’s chief executive, said the latest figures are “extremely worrying and show that a growing number of people are left with no choice but to turn to non-profit, volunteer-run organizations to make ends meet, and that’s not right”.
She added: “People have been without it for too long because Social Security payments do not reflect the essential costs of living, and this pushes people even deeper into hardship.
“If we are to halt this continued growth and end the need for food banks, the UK government needs to ensure that the standard Universal Credit allowance is always sufficient to cover essential costs.”
Labour’s Shadow Works and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the “devastating” surge in emergency food packages was the “price families are paying for 13 years of Tory economic failure”.
A government spokesman said: “We are committed to eradicating poverty and recognizing the pressure of rising living costs, which is why we have increased benefits by 10.1% and made an unprecedented increase in the national living wage this month.
“This comes on top of the changes already made to Universal Credit, meaning claimants can keep more of their hard-earned money – an average increase of £1,000 a year.
“We are also providing a record level of direct financial support to the most vulnerable – £1,200 last year and a further £1,350 in 2023/24, with over eight million families receiving their first payment of £301 for living expenses from yesterday – while the Household Support Fund helps people with essential expenses.’
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