UNIVERSAL CREDIT KEY DRIVER OF INCREASING NEED FOR FOOD PARCELS

For immediate release:

UNIVERSAL CREDIT KEY DRIVER OF INCREASING NEED FOR FOOD PARCELS

The number of emergency parcels handed out by food banks in Scotland rose by nearly a quarter over the last year, according to the UK’s largest food bank provider.

The Trussell Trust said its food banks provided more than 210,000 packages to people in crisis in 2018-19 – up 23% from the previous year.

In Rutherglen, between 1st April 2018 and 31st March 2019, 4720 three-day emergency food supplies were given to local people in crisis, with 1370 of these going to children.

The food bank provider said that issues with the UK Government’s flagship welfare reform Universal Credit are “leaving many without enough money to cover the basics”. Built into the Universal Credit system is a five-week delay in receiving the first payment, and the Trussell Trust network has been calling for a reduction in the wait.

In Scotland, 42% of food bank referrals made due to a delay in benefits were linked to Universal Credit.

Rutherglen MSP Clare Haughey, who attended the Rutherglen and Cambuslang Trussell Trust AGM last week (25th April), has been a vocal critic of the Universal Credit system.

Commenting, the local MSP said:

“The botched roll-out of Universal Credit has been a disaster – driving people into poverty, and forcing families to rely on food banks.

“In a country as wealthy as ours it’s unacceptable that emergency parcels and food banks have become so commonplace – and we know, beyond any doubt, that UK Government policies are to blame.

“The Scottish Government has long made the case for a halt to the roll-out of Universal Credit but those pleas fell on deaf ears. It is unacceptable for the UK Government to keep side-lining this issue while families go hungry.

“I fully back the Trussell Trust’s calls for the UK Government to bin the five-week wait for Universal Credit.”

The Trussell Trust’s Scotland operations manager Laura Ferguson added:

“What we are seeing year-upon-year is more and more people struggling to eat because they simply cannot afford food. A 200% increase in just five years is not right.

“Ultimately, it’s unacceptable that anyone should have to use a food bank in the first place. No charity can replace the dignity of having enough money to buy food.

“Our benefits system is supposed to protect us all from being swept into poverty. Universal Credit should be part of the solution but currently the five-week wait is leaving many without enough money to cover the basics.

“As a priority, we’re urging the government to end the wait for Universal Credit to ease the pressure on thousands of households.”

ENDS

Notes:

Quote from Laura Ferguson, and referenced Scotland-wide stats, can be found in the below link:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-48043856

The statistics for Rutherglen were provided to Clare Haughey MSP by the Trussell Trust on the 25th April 2019.

 

Date published: 26th April 2019

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