Food banks see 'shocking' rise in number of users

 
Hackney food bank Benefit sanctions are one reason for increased use of food banks, it is claimed

Related Stories

A food bank charity says it has handed out 913,000 food parcels in the last year, up from 347,000 the year before.

The Trussell Trust said a third were given to repeat visitors but that there was a "shocking" 51% rise in clients to established food banks. It said benefit payment delays were the main cause.

In a letter to ministers, more than 500 clergy say the increase is "terrible".

The government said there was no evidence of a link between welfare reforms and the use of food banks.

However, the Trussell Trust, the largest food bank provider in the UK, said benefits payments had been a particular problem since welfare changes were introduced just over a year ago.

Some 83% of food banks reported that benefits sanctions - when payments are temporarily stopped - had resulted in more people being referred for emergency food.

Start Quote

If I didn't come here, there wouldn't be any food for me tonight”

End Quote Andy Foodbank client

And more than 30% of visits were put down to a delay in welfare payments.

The second biggest reason, given by 20% of food bank users, was low income.

"In the last year, we've seen things get worse, rather than better, for many people on low incomes," said Chris Mould, chairman of the Trussell Trust.

'Terrible'

In all, 913,000 people received three days of emergency food supplies in the past 12 months.

But more than a third of those cases represented repeat visits. Some of the increase was also down to extra food banks opening.

Andy, a 47 year-old unemployed electrician, applied for jobseeker's allowance (JSA) a week ago, but has not heard when the money will come through.

boxes of rice

In the meantime, he has been referred to a food bank near his home in Hackney in north London.

"If I didn't come here, there wouldn't be any food for me tonight. It's the system. But I don't understand why there's a gap," he told the BBC.

Andy was sent away with two shopping bags of pasta, rice, vegetables, biscuits and juice.

The clergy from all major dominations, who include Archbishop of Wales Barry Morgan and several senior Church of England bishops, describe the increase in the use of Trussell Trust food banks as "terrible", in a letter to the government.

Sarah Rae: "I didn't think I would ever be the sort of person who would need charity"

They insist it does not give a full picture of hunger in the UK because it does not include people who are too ashamed to use food banks and others who are cutting the size of meals.

They called on ministers to co-operate with an inquiry into the causes of hunger, led by the Bishop of Truro Tim Thornton.

A public vigil will be held on Wednesday night in Westminster to highlight the issue.

Paperwork

The government denies that welfare payments are a problem.

"There is no robust evidence that welfare reforms or benefit administration are linked to increased use of food banks," said a spokeswoman for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

She also maintained that the amount of time taken to process payments had improved.

The clergy's view

Churches have been in the lead in criticising the effects of the government's welfare changes for more than a year, and looking for tangible evidence of "hunger" to back up their argument that they disproportionately affect the poorest people.

The figures for the use of food banks seem to provide at least an indication of food poverty, but how far they do is open to debate.

The Trussell Trust - which has taken on a campaigning role as well as providing food banks - says that at least 60% of their three-day parcels are taken by once-only clients, but that leaves some room for repeat visits, as the government has pointed out.

Ministers have also suggested that the publicity surrounding food banks will have pushed people in their direction. But arguments like this haven't deflected the clergy, who insist much of the real extent of hunger is hidden, as people cut the size of meals and parents go hungry to feed their children. They want a national debate about the issue, and to make it a moral issue, one the government shows every sign of being willing to take part in.

Ministers say that before their changes, benefits paid more than work and left many people "trapped" on welfare - something they insist was far from caring.

Some 92% of payments were now made within the target time of 16 days, a 6% improvement on the time taken five years ago, she told the BBC.

But an additional problem since April 2013 has been the abolition of DWP-funded crisis loans, designed to cover short-term emergencies.

Responsibility for these loans has been devolved to local authorities, which can make them harder to access.

Short-term advances, as they are known, are still available through job centres for people awaiting benefit payments. But many claimants - including Andy - are not always made aware of them.

Other people have their payments stopped, sometimes because they have missed an appointment, or have lost paperwork.

"We're often surprised by the length of sanctions people get," said Liza Cucco, the manager of the Hackney food bank.

"If someone is late for an appointment, I'm not sure it's reasonable to block their payments for four to six weeks," she told the BBC.

However the government said it was spending £94bn a year on working age benefits to provide a safety net to millions of people on low incomes.

It also insisted that its welfare reforms will promote work, and so lift millions of people out of poverty.

 

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 1117.

    Poverty is not an accident, it is man made and can be removed by the actions of human beings....Nelson Mandela

    Until you have been without money for essentials like food do not judge others because you never know the day when your life could turn and you will be the one in need of help.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 935.

    Many working people are living on 500-700 a month from part-time wages and having to cover rent, gas, electric, food, travel to work.

    I've never been out of work, I rarely drink or socialise and I definitely do not live luxuriously but many times in my working life I have been completely skint a week or two before payday.

    I can't imagine how much worse it is on basic jobseekers.

  • rate this
    +16

    Comment number 898.

    My sister is on benefits, she has 3 children, she goes to food banks because she 'needs' to. She has £300 cash per week in various benefits, she has her rent and taxes paid for her. 3 of her kids have iPads, all have new branded clothes and gadgets. She uses food banks because she has little money left after luxuries.

    There is no need for food banks. People just do not prioritise needs over wants

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 791.

    In my job I have to give out food bank vouchers. A good proportion is due to benefit delay or sanction. An equally good proportion is down to poor budgeting, reliance on expensive pre-prepared foods and prioritising debts to mates, cigarettes and alcohol over food and rent.

  • rate this
    +44

    Comment number 471.

    In my city you have to be referred by a Dr, charity worker or agency to use one of the nine food banks. Food is donated by the public.

    It’s not given away free to anyone as people seem to think.

    Likewise many schools have had to introduce breakfast clubs to feed hungry kids. Like it or not poverty is back in the UK.

 

Comments 5 of 17

 

More Business stories

RSS

Business Live

  1.  
    SSE cuts gas prices Via Email James Padmore head of energy, comparethemarket.com

    If customers of British Gas and Scottish Power thought that delaying price cuts until February was unfair, I suspect those households with SSE will be pretty unimpressed by this announcement. In general, many Big Six customers have not reacted as well to the price cuts announcements as those companies might have hoped. In the last week, we have seen switches to the Big Six remain broadly flat.

     
  2.  
    Aer Lingus bid Via Email Mark Irvine-Fortescue Jefferies International
    Michael O'Leary

    Hurdles remain to Aer Lingus accepting IAG's revised €2.55/share bid but on balance we think a deal will get done. The deal would be positive for IAG, adding further growth avenues to the already exciting outlook, and for Ryanair shareholders, who could rightly expect a cash windfall.

     
  3.  
    SSE cuts gas prices Via Email Adrian Smith, business live reader

    After 18 months of falling gas and oil prices, 50% on oil and 35% on gas, they offer a reduction of 4% but you have to wait three more months. Disgusting. It is time these companies were brought to book. I will vote for any party that does that and so will million of others.

     
  4.  
    10:19: Greek election

    It is early days, but so far there are few positive signals for calls for a renegotiation of Greece's debt agreements. Norbert Barthle, spokesman on budgetary affairs for the conservative CDU party in the lower house of the German parliament told Reuters "with us there will be no further debt reduction for Greece".

     
  5.  
    10:06: Flybe shares plummet
    plane

    Budget airline Flybe has seen its share price dive 22% this morning after it had said passenger revenue per seat fell 3.8% in the third quarter and forecast lower passenger revenue in the next three months. It said it would break even on pre-tax profit for 2015 but that falling oil prices would not help in either 2015 or 2016 as a result of its hedging. Competitive pressures on new routes - out of London City Airport for example - "will extend the period of time" they take to add to revenues, the airline added.

     
  6.  
    09:50: Greek election

    Reuters is reporting that Greece's leftwing Syriza party may form a coalition government with the right-wing, anti-bailout Independent Greeks party. The leader of the smaller party, Panos Kammenos, is quoted as saying: "I want to announce that from this moment there is a government in the country. The Independent Greeks give a vote of confidence in Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. There is an agreement in principle."

     
  7.  
    09:39: Greek elections
    ase index

    Athens's main share index has opened down 4%. Banks and financials are the hardest hit.

     
  8.  
    09:35: Reverse ferret
    FTSE 100

    The FTSE 100 has risen back into positive territory after opening down more than half a percent. The DAX is now up 0.5% and the CAC is up 0.25%. It's going to be a volatile day.

     
  9.  
    Aer Lingus bid Kamal Ahmed BBC Business editor

    After rejecting the first two bids as "fundamentally undervaluing" the business, Aer Lingus is a lot more positive this morning about a possible takeover by International Airlines Group (IAG), the owners of British Airways run by the combative Willie Walsh. The Irish carrier said it is now "considering" IAG's third offer of €2.55 a share. The betting must now be on a recommended deal being put to the two major Aer Lingus investors (Ryanair and the Irish government) at some point this week.

     
  10.  
    09:07: Market update

    As predicted, Europe's share markets have opened down. London's benchmark FTSE 100 index of top companies fell 0.57% to 6,794 points, Frankfurt's DAX 30 shed 0.53% to 10,592.97 and the CAC 40 in Paris lost 0.45% to 4,620 points.

     
  11.  
    08:57: Greek election BBC Radio 4

    Mr Varoufakis tells Today he wants to tell German voters the problem isn't that they haven't paid Greece enough to save its economy but that they have paid far too much - €240bn - in the last five years. The problem, he says, is that only 10% of that money has gone to the Greek government; the rest has gone "into a black hole of debt."

     
  12.  
    08:43: Greek election BBC Radio 4

    Mr Varoufakis quotes Dylan Thomas (which doesn't happen every day on the live page). The glimmer of light he says came on Sunday when the Greek electorate chose "to stop going gently into the night and to rage against the dying of the light." Now Greece can have a rational conversaation with its European partners about what to do next, he says.

     
  13.  
    08:37: Paper review
    papers

    Unsurprisingly, this morning's papers are united in leading on the Greek election result. The Times reports Greece "sent shockwaves across Europe," while the FT calls it a "momentous poll victory" for Syriza. The Wall St Journal says an "astonishing upset of Europe's political order" is on the cards, while the Telegraph puts Greece on a "collision course" with the rest of Europe.

     
  14.  
    08:24: Greek elections BBC Radio 4

    Yanis Varoufakis, who has just been elected to parliament in this weekend's Greek poll and has been talked of as a possible finance minister talks to Today. He says Europe, in its infinite wisdom, responded to Greece going bankrupt by "unloading the largest loan in human history on the weakest of shoulders.... on condition that the bankrupted nation was going to have to shrink its income by a quarter". He adds: "An eight or nine-year-old can understand this will not end well. What we have had since... is a kind of fiscal water boarding policies that have turned Greece into a debt colony."

     
  15.  
    08:16: Greek elections BBC Radio 4

    There are "some pretty hardcore" anti-capitalist, anti-austerity, anti NATO, anti-negotiation, anti-Europe members of Syriza, Constantine Buhayer, Greek country analyst at Jane's Intelligence tells Today. Alexis Tsipras is at the head of a political coalition that includes Maoists and Communists, he says, so keeping all of those moving parts together while trying to renegotiate the Greece's bailout terms will not be easy.

     
  16.  
    08:01: Greek election BBC Radio 4

    "The obligation on the eurozone is to come forward with an economic policy that delivers jobs and growth," Mr Osborne tells Today. It's not just about the public finances. Alongside fiscal responsibility, you have to active monetary policy and create environments in which businesses want to invest, Mr Osborne adds.

     
  17.  
    07:46: Rolls-Royce engines
    mtu

    Rolls-Royce's MTU business, which makes large diesel engines, has won a €100m order for freight locomotive engines for South African trains. The 20-cylinder engines, pictured, kick out 3,300 kilowatts of power.

     
  18.  
    07:35: Greek election BBC Radio 4

    Speaking about the huge support for Syriza, Chancellor George Osborne tells the Today programme that with the Greek economy suffering: "I can understand why you are looking for other answers". But he adds, the party's election promises will be "very difficult" to implement. He urged Syriza and eurozone policymakers to "act responsibly" over any forthcoming renegotiation of Greece's bailout.

     
  19.  
    07:27: Aer Lingus bid
    Aer Lingus jets parked in an airport

    Aer Lingus has confirmed that it has received a revised offer from British Airways owner IAG, which values the Irish flag carrier at €2.55 per share and therefore a little above €1.3bn. It says it is releasing the information "without the prior agreement or approval of IAG". Aer Ligus advises shareholders to do nothing at this stage adding it is "considering" the proposal.

     
  20.  
    07:14: Cleaning up in windows

    Safestyle UK - they of the shouty window man adverts - reported 2014 revenue increased 9% to £136m. It expects pre-tax profit will meet market expectations of £16.7m, it said.

     
  21.  
    SSE lowers gas prices by 4.1% Breaking News
    Gas rings on a cooker.

    SSE is the latest energy supplier to lower its gas prices. It says it will cut its main gas tariff by 4.1% on 30 April and extend its household gas and electricity price guarantee - meaning prices won't go up - to at least July 2016.

     
  22.  
    06:59: Greek elections BBC Breakfast
    bbc

    "The question is how Syriza is going to deliver," says Lena Komileva of G+ Economics on Breakfast. Promising to rehire workers and its other campaign pledges "without running Greece into an economic catastrophe" will be difficult to do, she says. Negotiating some leeway with the European Central Bank, European Union and International Monetary Fund - the institutions to which it owes money - will be the likely plan, she adds.

     
  23.  
    06:46: Greek elections BBC Radio 4

    So now Syriza has won this weekend's Greek election, what happens next? There are going to have to be some renegotiations. That might lead to something being put to the European Commission that can bring about a deal, Greek economist, Vicky Pryce tells Today. She says "of course, they're [the EU] not going to like it ..... and will say at first no way are we going to do a deal with you". But eventually the EU will have to negotiate, she says.

     
  24.  
    06:32: Tax collection Radio 5 live

    More on tax. Wake Up to Money presenter Adam Parsons asks, if you pay your tax, surely there's no problem? "People will always do things which are sometimes debateable if tax is payable or not," says Mr Bullock. Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK says £137m is a "paltry effort compared to the amount of tax not being paid."

     
  25.  
    06:21: Tax collection Radio 5 live

    James Bullock, a partner at Pinsent Mason specialising in tax is on Wake Up to Money. A crackdown on tax avoidance and evasion by people who HM Revenue & Customs call "mass affluent" netted 60% more money in 2014, his firm's report says. It raised £137.2m in tax, up from £85.7m in 2013. Mr Bullock warned on not damaging the economy, as "an HMRC investigation can be a very time intensive procedure" and can leave people unsure what they owe.

     
  26.  
    06:10: Greek election Radio 5 live

    More from Kerry Craig from JPMorgan on Wake Up to Money. "We are likely to see an extension of 6 months to the bailout agreement" to Greece, he says. "I don't think you'll see the Greek 10 year bonds test the highs we saw.... more and more you aren't seeing the markets price in contagion..." as Italian and Spanish bond yields are also lower than before, indicating less concern among investors, he says.

     
  27.  
    06:01: Greek election Radio 5 live
    Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Syriza party and Greece's new Prime Minister

    There'll be a great deal of interest in the Greek election from the markets and Kerry Craig from JPMorgan Asset Management is on Wake Up to Money to talk about them. "The market reaction will be fairly muted" immediately after the election since anti-austerity party Syriza was tipped to win by polls, he says.

     
  28.  
    06:00: Howard Mustoe Business reporter

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

     
  29.  
    06:00: Matthew West Business Reporter

    Morning everyone. BHS owner Sir Philip Green says he is considering selling the department store chain, the euro has dived after the anti austerity Syriza party won this weekend's snap election in Greece and Aer Lingus is believed to be ready to accept a takeover bid from British Airways owner IAG. We'll bring you reaction to the Greek election result, plus anything else we unearth, as it happens.

     

Features

From BBC Capital

Programmes

  • Water droplets bouncing off a laser-etched water repellent metal surfaceClick Watch

    The laser-etched metal surfaces that repel water, plus other technology news

Copyright © 2015 BBC. 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.