Numbers relying on food banks triple in a year

Ed Thomas visits a food bank in Manchester

Related Stories

The number of people relying on food banks to survive has tripled over the last year, according to new figures.

The Trussell Trust, which runs 400 food banks across the UK, said it handed out supplies to more than 350,000 people between April and September this year.

A third of those being helped were children, and a third needed food following a delay in the payment of benefits.

A cross-party group of MPs has been set up to investigate the surge in demand.

The Labour MP Frank Field, appointed by David Cameron as the government's poverty advisor, will head up the committee along with Conservative Laura Sandys.

Start Quote

We're talking about mums not eating for days because they've been sanctioned for seemingly illogical reasons”

End Quote Chris Mould Trussell Trust

Mr Field said they would investigate the impact of benefit of cuts, low wages and high food prices.

'Deep distress'

The Trussell Trust said the problem was so severe that some people using food banks have started to hand back items that need cooking, as they cannot afford to use the energy.

The Trust is calling for a public enquiry into why so many people are having difficulty feeding themselves.

"The level of food poverty in the UK is not acceptable," said Chris Mould, the Trust's executive chairman.

"It's scandalous, and it is causing deep distress to thousands of people, " he added.

Food banks work through a system of referrals.

Professionals including doctors and social workers hand out vouchers, which in the first instance can be exchanged for three days' worth of emergency food.

Food banks have seen a surge in use - "Children are going to school hungry", says Mark Ward, Trussell Trust

Sanctions

The Trust said that the problem of hunger in the UK is getting worse.

Rising living costs and stagnant wages are forcing more people to live on a "financial knife edge", it said.

It also forecast that rising energy prices this winter are likely to see more people "choosing between heating and eating."

It admits that one reason for the rise in the numbers is that there are twice as many food banks in existence as last year.

But the Trust says the number of people using them has still tripled, and that even the well-established food banks are reporting significant rises in their use.

It claims that problems with benefit payments is a major factor.

Who can use a food bank?

food bank in Liverpool
  • Users have to be referred by any one of a number of care professionals, including social workers, doctors, health visitors, the police, schools or church ministers
  • In the first instance they will be given vouchers for three days of emergency food. However, they can be given up to three vouchers in a row
  • After that, the Trussell Trust will try to give people long-term support to stop them going hungry

"We're talking about mums not eating for days because they've been sanctioned for seemingly illogical reasons," said Mr Mould.

"Or people leaving hospital after a major operation to find that their benefits have been stopped or delayed," he added.

Food poverty

However the government has taken issue with the report.

"The Trussell Trust itself says it is opening three new food banks every week, so it's not surprising more people are using them," said a government spokesperson.

On the matter of benefit payments, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said that there was "no robust evidence that welfare reforms are linked to increased use of food banks".

It also said that benefit processing times have steadily improved over the past five years, with 90% now being paid within 16 days.

There was further evidence of increased demand for food hand-outs from FareShare, an organisation which distributes supplies to more than 1000 charities across the UK.

It said requests for its services had risen by 15% over the last year.

The supermarket giant Tesco has now agreed to donate all its fresh surplus food to FareShare, so providing 7 million meals a year to those who need them.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Business stories

RSS

BBC Business Live

  1.  
    AMAZON JOBS Via Twitter Ben Thompson Business correspondent, BBC News Channel

    tweets: "Amazon to create 13,000 seasonal jobs in run up to Christmas. On busiest day last year, customers ordered 4.1m items - 47 every second."

     
  2.  
    09:07: SAP DOWNGRADE

    German software developer SAP has fallen 3.9% this morning in Frankfurt after letting on that 2014 profit will be lower than previously forecast. Services in the cloud are putting pressure on profits.

     
  3.  
    08:50: FORD INVESTMENT Radio 5 live

    Ford is investing about £200m at its Dagenham plant creating about 300 jobs to make diesel engines. Mark Ovenden of Ford is on 5 live. Engines are Britain's strength in vehicle manufacture, he says.

     
  4.  
    08:39: MARKET REPORT

    The FTSE 100 is behaving a bit oddly in early trading. It opened up 8 points this morning then promptly remembered the erurozone is teetering on the edge of a third crisis and there's less global economic growth out there and fell again. Now its up 3 points again at 6313.64 . The situation is a bit worse for Germany's Dax - down 52 points to 8797.85 - and France's Cac-40 - down 23 points to 4010.12.

     
  5.  
    08:28: TAX MARK

    SSE is touting its award of the new Fair Tax Mark, which has been set up to show companies are being open about what tax they pay. Other recipients include Go-Ahead Group , Midcounties Co-operative, Phone Co-op and Unity Trust Bank. Margaret Hodge, chair of parliament's Public Accounts Committee, said she hoped other companies would follow SSE's example.

     
  6.  
    08:16: PONTOON CYCLING
    Computer generated image of the floating cycle route

    Is the floating bike path a sustainable solution or an expensive distraction? We think you probably just need to look at the picture (above) for the answer to that question. But if you really feel the need to read about one of the more outlandish proposals being considered by Mayor of London Boris Johnson then by all means take a look. Some have baulked at the £600m price tag. But no doubt the team behind the 'Thames Deckway' thought "Boris. Keen Cycler, loves things that float (think airports), it's bound to be a winner."

     
  7.  
    08:00: SHIRE FINANCE CHIEF EXIT

    Drugs firm Shire has announced that interim chief financial officer James Bowling has resigned after ten years with the firm. He is joining Severn Trent as CFO and will leave Shire at the end of March 2015. Shire saw more than 30% of its share value wiped out last week after the collapse of a £32bn takeover from US rival AbbVie. Shire will start the search for a new CFO immediately.

     
  8.  
    07:45: SPIRIT PUB OFFER
    The badge of Greene King brewers on a pub wall

    Spirit pub company, which runs about 750 pubs, says Greene King has made a better offer to take the company over. They would get 0.1322 Greene King shares per Spirit share and a cash payment of 8 pence, worth a total of about 109.5 pence. Spirit's board says it may recommend the offer once a few details have been ironed out.

     
  9.  
    07:33: BUDGET GIVEAWAY?
    Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne

    Don't expect any traditional tax giveaways ahead of the general election. In a move akin to "good luck, there's no money left", Cabinet ministers have been warned by the Treasury that it is likely they will have to rein in their spending in the run-up to the election because of a shortfall in tax revenues and concerns about the global economy, the Financial Times has reported today. Treasury secretary Danny Alexander has told the Cabinet tax revenues are not recovering as quickly as the economy so he might have to impose new spending controls in the Autumn Statement. Yikes.

     
  10.  
    07:21: BANK OF JAPAN

    Japan's central bank has maintained its economic assessment for eight of the country's nine regions in its quarterly report, saying they continue to recover. The north-eastern Tohoku region cut its assessment from July, to say that the recovery trend is slowing.

     
  11.  
    07:07: IBM NEWS
    chip

    IBM says it will make a "major business announcement" today. Various newspapers including the Wall Street Journal think it will sell off its loss-making microchip-making business. IBM will pay Globalfoundries $1.5bn (£931m) to take the chip operations off its hands, says the WSJ.

     
  12.  
    06:50: UK GROWTH BBC Radio 4

    Peter Spencer, economic adviser to the EY Item Club, tells the Today programme housing investment along with business investment has been responsible for "about half of the economic growth" we have see in the UK since the start of the recovery. But people are beginning to worry about global growth and the UK's economic outlook. Concerns about economic developments at home and abroad has meant there are already signs of "a return to caution by both borrowers and lenders in the mortgage market".

     
  13.  
    06:35: STOCK MARKET TURMOIL BBC Radio 4

    Last week's stock market sell off is on the business agenda today. "Everyone was feeling nervous. We just need a very small straw to break the camel's back I think it was the Ebola virus," James Bevan chief investment officer at CCLA Investment Management tells the Today programme. "We had a lot of other things going on but I think Ebola was the thing that made investors say to themselves 'let's sit this one out'. There has been no real change in the hard economic data." He is worried about bond yields spiking "as they did in 1987" though.

     
  14.  
    06:24: EUROZONE ECONOMY Radio 5 live
    Jose Manual Barroso

    Jose Manual Barroso, outgoing President of the European Commission, has told the BBC he doesn't think another recession in the eurozone is likely. Official statistics suggest a "weaker recovery than anticipated. Elmar Brok, a German member of the European Parliament is on Radio 5 live and says Britain should be "more positive towards the eurozone"

     
  15.  
    06:13: INTERN PAY Radio 5 live

    Christian May from the Institute of Directors is on 5 live talking about employment reform, including reforms to how interns are paid, or otherwise. "It's worth considering it's unlikely to be a silver bullet," he says. There's a chance restrictions could be gamed to allow employers not to pay interns. While 25% of businesses have interns they don't pay, "in this day and age its getting difficult to justify having someone work for them and not paying them."

     
  16.  
    06:03: ETHICAL INVESTMENTS Radio 5 live

    Justin Urquhart Stewart of 7 Investment Management is on 5 live talking about ethical investment. "It's very badly marketed so people don't understand it ," He says. But because such investments strip out companies such as tobacco, alcohol, arms and oil, returns can also be slim.

     
  17.  
    06:01: Howard Mustoe Business reporter

    Good morning. Get in touch via email bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk and twitter @BBCBusiness.

     
  18.  
    06:00: Matthew West Business reporter

    Morning folks. It's a gloomy start to the day with the EY Item Club downgrading its 2015 UK economic growth forecast quite sharply this morning as a result of the global slowdown and uncertainty over interest rates. There's more housing market data out later and the Prime Minister is going to be pushing for more apprenticeships today too. We'll bring you more as it happens.

     

Features

From BBC Capital

Programmes

  • FishThe Travel Show Watch

    Meet the Helsinki market trader who sells fish to the President of Finland

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.