More people expected to rely on food banks this Christmas

The Trussell Trust is concerned that an increase in food bank parcels needed so far this year further suggests that more people than ever will need a food bank’s help.

New data shows that December 2018 was the busiest month for food banks last year, where 186,185 three-day emergency food parcels were provided by food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network to people in crisis, 78,536 of which went to children. This is 44 per cent higher than the monthly average for the 2018-19 financial year.

There has already been a 23 per cent increase in the number of food parcels provided compared to the same period in 2018, with research highlighting how the average weekly income of households at food banks is only £50 after paying rent, and that one in five have no money coming in at all in the month before being referred for emergency food.

The Trussell Trust asking the public to donate to their local food bank as soon as possible, to ensure vital help is there for people pulled into crisis by increased pressure from heating bills, food and other essentials during the lead up to Christmas. Given it is election campaigning time, the charity is also asking the public to ask candidates on all sides to pledge to protect people from hunger by ensuring everyone has enough money for the basics.

The Trussell Trust says the next government can start working towards a future where no one needs a food bank by: ending the five week wait for Universal Credit; ensuring benefit payments cover the cost of living; and investing in local emergency support for people in crisis.

Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said: “Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration – but for too many people it’s becoming harder and harder to keep their heads above water. Nine in 10 of us believe hunger in the UK is a problem – food banks cannot and should not have to continue to pick up the pieces.

“We know many people want to help their local communities at this time of year. There are two simple things you can do to make a real difference. First, find out what items your local food bank is most in need of and donate as soon as possible. Then help us end the need for food banks for good, by asking all your local candidates up for election to pledge to protect people from hunger by making sure everyone has enough money for the basics.

“It’s not right that anyone should have to use a food bank at any time of year – not just at Christmas. Our next government must start working towards a future where no one needs a food bank. It’s not inevitable that every Christmas we hear stories about families needing food banks. It’s in our power to reach a future where everyone has enough money for the basics. This can change.”

Ian Lavery, Labour Party chair, responded: “While so many of us will enjoy indulging over the Christmas period, it is a total scandal that more families than ever will be relying on food handouts just to save them from going hungry.

“The appalling rise in food bank use reflects the cruelty of Tory austerity. Boris Johnson’s born-to-rule Conservatives don’t seem to care that when they sit down for their Christmas dinners, hundreds of thousands of families will be relying on the kindness of strangers just to survive. This is not inevitable. The next Labour government will halve food bank usage within a year and remove the need for them altogether in three years. That is the real change that Britain needs.”