Universal Credit Problems Blamed as Use of Foodbanks Soars
November 7, 2017
The foodbank charity group the Trussell Trust has said that demand for its services is “soaring” as a result of problems with the rollout of Universal Credit, the UK government’s flagship new benefits system.
Universal Credit was created with the aim of simplifying the processes involved in administering a variety of different state benefit payments to people who need and are entitled to them.
The system is in the process of being introduced in various parts of the country but has apparently left a growing number of people without enough money to feed themselves and their families.
According to the Trussell Trust, which operates a UK-wide network of foodbanks, areas in which Universal Credit has been fully rolled out for six months or more have seen a sharp increase in reliance on foodbanks.
The charity group’s figures also suggest that problems with benefit payments remain the leading reason why people are referred to foodbanks and account for more than 40 per cent of such instances.
A particular issue with the rollout of Universal Credit is that initial payments routinely take six weeks to arrive with their intended recipients and for many people that can be so problematic that they don’t have enough money for food.
The Trussell Trust is calling on the government to reduce the length of time it takes Universal Credit claimants to receive their payments as a matter of urgency.
Another problem highlighted by the charity is that waiting six weeks or longer for benefit payments can lead people into personal debt crises and rent arrears.
“Our network is working hard to stop people going hungry but the simple truth is that even with the enormous generosity of our donors and volunteers, we’re concerned foodbanks could struggle to meet demand this winter,” said Mark Ward from the Trussell Trust.
“People cannot be left for weeks without any income, and when that income does come, it must keep pace with living costs – foodbanks cannot be relied upon to pick up the pieces.”
Between April and September 2017 the Trussell Trust handed out 76,764 three-day emergency food parcels to people living in Scotland.
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