Laura Sharman 25 April 2017

Rollout of Universal Credit doubling foodbank referrals, warns charity

The number of people being forced to use foodbanks has risen over the past year due to the government’s welfare reforms, a new report has found.

Research by anti-poverty charity, The Trussell Trust, found that between April 2016 and March 2017, more than 1,182,000 three day emergency food supplies were given to people in crisis. This is up from 1,109,309 in the previous year.

The report revealed that foodbanks in areas where Universal Credit was being rolled out have seen a 16.85% average increase in referrals for emergency food. This is more than double the national average of 6.64%.

Benefit delays and changes were responsible for 43% of all referrals to a foodbank, while low income accounted for 26% of referrals, according to the research.

‘The move to simplify an often complex welfare system is a welcome one but any large reform can have unforeseen consequences,’ said David McAuley, chief executive of The Trussell Trust.

‘Foodbanks see first-hand how changes to the welfare system affect people on the ground, and so can offer an early warning to decision-makers. We are sharing our early observations with the Department for Work and Pensions to ensure any adverse side effects Universal Credit can have on people are addressed before full rollout is completed.’

The report is calling for a reduction in the six week waiting period for Universal Credit, more flexibiity in the administration of Universal Credit, and for more clarity about the shape and form of Universal Support at a local level.

For more on the UC rollout visit The MJ (£).

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