Research: Working poor forced to use food banks

The working poor are having to resort to foodbanks to feed themselves and their families, new research suggests.

Skilled manual labourers on low wages, those who are off work for sickness or disability and claimants whose benefits have been delayed are all fuelling demand for the essentials to live.

Their use has risen a further two per cent last year, The Trussell Trust which run foodbanks across the nation said.

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High living costs, zero hour contracts, low wages and problems accessing working benefits are the main factors driving people to foodbanks.

Its survey suggests benefit delays and changes remain the biggest causes of foodbank use, accounting for two in five (42%) of all referrals.

And over a quarter of referrals last year (28%) were down to benefit delay alone.

But it’s not just the unemployed who are vulnerable to food poverty as the number of those on low income referred to its centres has risen by one per cent.

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Referrals were highest in areas where there are more people who are unable to work due to sickness or disability, or in areas where many are employed in skilled manual work.

The Trussell Trust and the University of Hull used 18 months of data to map where the need was greatest.

Data shows that 1,109,309 three day emergency food supplies were given to people by the charity’s 424 foodbanks in 2015 to 16, 415,866 of these going to children.

This was an increase of 24,705 food packages on the 1,084,604 handed out in 2014 to 15.

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Chief Executive David McAuley said: “Today’s figures on national foodbank use prove that the numbers of people hitting a crisis where they cannot afford to buy food are still far too high.

“One million three day food supplies given out by our foodbanks every year is one million too many.

“This must not become the new normal.

“Reducing UK hunger will require a collective effort from the voluntary sector, Government, DWP, businesses and the public, and The Trussell Trust is keen to work with all these groups to find solutions that stop so many people needing foodbanks in future.”

“Both The Trussell Trust’s data and the University of Hull research point to an urgent need to find ways to help reduce the numbers of people experiencing problems with benefits, especially vulnerable people receiving sickness and disability benefits.

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“We also need to ensure people on low incomes or in insecure work have enough to live on.

“The introduction of a national living wage is a great start, but more can be done for those in low paid work and unable to work.

“We need to listen to the experiences of people facing hunger and poverty, and work to find solutions to this problem.

“We look forward to building a positive relationship with the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with new ideas, in this task.”