Figures reveal rising food bank use


In recent years, the rise in the number of people requiring the support of food banks has been alarming and the past year has been no different.

Figures released yesterday by the Trussell Trust, the UK’s biggest food bank network, reveal that food banks provided record levels of emergency food supplies last year. The Trust provided 1.3 million three-day food packages for people in crisis, with almost half a million of these packages going to children.

In the West Midlands, between April 2017 and March 2018, almost 60,000 three day emergency food packages were provided to people facing crisis by the Trussell Trust, over 20,000 which were for children.

Food banks, like those ran by the Trussell Trust, have experienced a huge increase in demand at the same time as Universal Credit is being rolled-out by the Government. Under Universal Credit people are having to wait five weeks or longer for their first payment and they are simply running out of the money they need to pay their rent or mortgage, gas and electricity bills and to buy food.

The Trussell Trust are now calling for an urgent inquiry into administration of Universal Credit and its effect. All this underlines to me why the Government must pause and fix its roll out of Universal Credit before more hardship is caused to people. Until the Government do this, it is likely that more people will have no alternative but to turn to food banks for help. This will mean that local food banks will continue to depend on the incredible generosity of local people.

In our own area, the B30 Food Bank based at Cotteridge Church, is part of the Trussell Network. They, and the other foodbanks in our part of Birmingham, do an incredible group supporting local people. You can find out how you can donate to the B30 Food Bank here.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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