Fears over rise in use of foodbanks

Share Button

Donations to Wirral food bank. Pic © Amanda Campbell

Wirral Foodbank has seen a 39% increase in people using its services since this time last year, and there are fears that new regulations could make the situation worse.

Organisers say the implementation of Universal Credit, a new form of benefits payments to replace the existing system, could pile more pressure on their services as they prepare for a hectic Christmas.

Following the introduction of Universal Credit, food banks across the country have reported an increase in the services they provide, as a five-week delay in payments is leaving some people short of money.

Trusell Trust, which incorporates Foodbank, has found a 30% increase in usage where Universal Credit has been applied.

The figure is even higher on the Wirral, however donations from people across the borough have also risen by 27% since 2017.

Richard Roberts, manager at Wirral Foodbank, told JMU Journalism: “There has been a tsunami of changes that have taken place, including welfare reform, in particular Universal Credit.

“With low income, many clients are working zero-hour contracts,” he said, adding that the lack of job security means people have “uncertain working hours and inability to plan ahead regarding income and expenditure”.

YouTube: Sky News

Mr Roberts said: “Over the next few years all claimants on legacy benefits will be moved across to University Credit. This causes us concern and may well have a further impact on usage.”

Other factors, such as cold weather and high energy bills across the festive month, also play a role in the higher response of people in crisis and in need of food.

Shockingly, 6,278 three-day emergency food supplies were handed out within six months across Wirral, with 1,917 going to children.

The charity has also asked for festive contributions to be gifted in its bid to provide food for those in need. Christmas items such as advent calendars and chocolates would be welcome, but non-perishable foods such as instant mash, coffee, packet soup and sugar remain essential.

Mr Roberts added: “Our priority is to ensure we have the food stocks available and continue to meet the needs of the local people in the community. We work with all third party sectors to ensure that where possible some of the foodbank centres are open Christmas Eve and non-bank holidays over the Christmas and New Year period.”

Volunteers request that items to be donated in early December at the latest, to ensure there is enough time to process and distribute the items.

About Adele Matthews, JMU Journalism