THE Trussell Trust warned yesterday that foodbanks may not be able to provide enough food for the hungry this winter if the government goes ahead with its universal credit roll-out.
The charity — Britain’s largest single operator of foodbanks, running 428 across the country — has reported a soaring demand for its service in areas where the universal credit system has been introduced, with many recording a 30 per cent increase in use compared with the year before.
The scheme has been met with controversy as most benefit recipients suffer a six-week delay before their new payments are implemented.
The trust warned that it expected to supply a record number of food parcels to hungry people this winter.
The charity said it distributed 586,907 emergency supplies in the six months to September, over 67,000 more than during the same period last year.
More than 200,000 supplies went to children, while on average during the past year people needed around two parcels each.
Interim chief executive Mark Ward said: “Our network is working hard to stop people going hungry but the simple truth is that even with the enormous generosity of our donors and volunteers, we’re concerned that foodbanks could struggle to meet demand this winter if critical changes to benefit delivery are not made now.”
Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams said: “The shocking 30 per cent increase in food
bank use in areas where universal credit has been fully rolled out is further evidence of the desperate need for a pause to the programme while it is fixed.
“As well as foodbank use, the six-week wait for support and cuts to the programme are also driving debt, arrears and even evictions.
“The social security system is supposed to prevent people from going hungry and getting into debt, not make these problems worse.”
She called for the programme to be paused before “millions are made worse off.”
The People’s Assembly Against Austerity is organising a “foodbank protest” on the eve of the Budget to expose the “disturbing effect of the universal credit shambles.”
National secretary Sam Fairbain said: “Why, in one of the richest countries on the planet, do people have to rely on charity to put food on the table? And why are the Tories ignoring it?”