The rollout of Universal Credit is increasing the use of food banks by an average of 52%, new research has revealed today.
Analysis by the Trussell Trust found food banks in areas where Universal Credit has been in place for a year or more has seen demand rise by 52%. The use of food banks not in Universal Credit areas have seen an average increase of 13% in this time.
The charity warned that the main reason for a referral to a food bank was due to benefit levels not covering the costs of essentials.
Emma Revie, chief executive of The Trussell Trust, said: ‘It’s hard to break free from hunger if there isn’t enough money coming in to cover the rising cost of absolute essentials like food and housing. For too many people staying above water is a daily struggle. It’s completely unacceptable that anyone is forced to turn to a foodbank as a result.
‘Universal Credit is the future of our benefits system. It’s vital we get it right, and ensure levels of payment keep pace with the rising cost of essentials, particularly for groups of people we know are already more likely to need a foodbank – disabled people, people dealing with an illness, families with children and single parents.’
The charity is calling for benefit levels to be uprated in line with inflation to ensure payments keep pace with the cost of living. It also wants local authorities to deliver a true Universal Support service to everyone who starts a Universal Credit claim.