FOODBANK volunteers put in 4.1 million hours of unpaid work every year, according to a new study published today.
The Independent Food Aid Network (Ifan) said the labour involved would cost foodbanks £30m a year if the volunteers were paid the minimum wage.
The number of people needing emergency food is increasing dramatically as the Tories’ universal credit benefit scheme is rolled out and payments are delayed for weeks on end, the report states.
Ifan’s Professor Jon May called on the government to “accept responsibility for Britain’s hunger crisis.”
He said: “In exchange for our financial contributions, government is required to ensure sufficient support is available to all, so that no-one needs to rely on charity to feed themselves or their families. That contract has been broken.”
There are more than 700 independent foodbanks in operation, while the Trussell Trust runs 1,235 centres.
The generosity of volunteers and donators “cannot replace the welfare safety net,” Samantha Stapley of the Trussell Trust said.
Steve Turner, assistant general secretary of the Unite union — which has campaigned against the causes of foodbank use — said that the government’s “pig-headed determination” to force through universal credit will make “an appalling situation even worse.”
He told the Star: “It is likely that even with the tremendous goodwill of volunteers the hundreds of foodbanks established across the UK will not be able to meet the needs of local communities.
“Disgracefully, in the fifth-richest nation on the planet, thousands of people are going to be left hungry tonight as they were last night and will be tomorrow unless we force the government to back away from a further roll out of an already failed universal credit fiasco.”