“Simply unacceptable in modern Britain” – Jeff urges pause in Universal Credit after record foodbank figures revealed

Manchester Withington MP Jeff Smith has highlighted the record increase in foodbank usage over the last year.

Between 1st April 2017 and 31st March 2018, The Trussell Trust’s foodbank network distributed 1,332,952 three day emergency food supplies to people in crisis, a 13% increase on the previous year. 484,026 of these went to children.

For the first time, new national data highlights the growing proportion of foodbank referrals due to benefit levels not covering the costs of essentials. The Trussell Trust is calling for benefit levels to be uprated in line with inflation to ensure payments keep pace with the cost of living.

Trussel Trust

The latest figures also show the rollout of the Government’s flagship welfare reform, Universal Credit, to be a major factor in foodbank take-up. Foodbanks that have been in full UC rollout areas for a year or more have experienced an average increase of 52% in the twelve months after the full rollout date in their area. Those either not in full UC areas, or only in full rollout areas for up to three months, showed an average increase of 13%.

Jeff said:

“It is simply unacceptable that in modern Britain foodbank usage is rising at record levels.

In south Manchester alone 3280 three day emergency food supplies were given to people facing crisis by the Trussell Trust last year, 1431 of which were for children.

These figures are a damning indictment of the Government’s policies, and particularly show that the rollout of Universal Credit is pushing people into destitution.

The Government must listen to the Trussell Trust and immediately commit to an urgent inquiry into the impact of the rollout of Universal Credit across the country.”


 Emma Revie, Chief Executive of The Trussell Trust, said:

“As a nation we expect no one should be left hungry or destitute – illness, disability, family breakdown or the loss of a job could happen to any of us, and we owe it to each other to make sure sufficient financial support is in place when we need it most.

“It’s hard to break free from hunger if there isn’t enough money coming in to cover the rising cost of absolute essentials like food and housing. For too many people staying above water is a daily struggle. It’s completely unacceptable that anyone is forced to turn to a foodbank as a result. 

“Universal Credit is the future of our benefits system. It’s vital we get it right,  and ensure levels of payment keep pace with the rising cost of essentials, particularly for groups of people we know are already more likely to need a foodbank – disabled people, people dealing with an illness, families with children and single parents.”

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