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Increase in number of food bank parcels handed out in Cambridgeshire, figures reveal

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Universal Credit problems are driving an increase in the number of emergency parcels handed out at food banks in Cambridgeshire, a charity has claimed.

The demand for food banks will rise in Cambridgeshire says charity. (5325729)
The demand for food banks will rise in Cambridgeshire says charity. (5325729)

The Trussell Trust said its network provided 13,136 emergency supplies in the area between April and September. Of those, 8,183 were for adults and 4,953 for children.

That’s a 13% increase on the same period in 2017, when 11,653 food parcels were handed out.

National research by the charity showed that delays with Universal Credit were the main reason for food bank referrals. The Government said it was "wrong to link a rise to any one cause".

The trust expects these numbers to rise towards the end of the year, as people typically collect more food parcels over winter.

Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, which supports 428 food banks across the UK, said: "Our benefits system is supposed to anchor any of us from being swept into poverty, but if Universal Credit is to do that, we need to see urgent changes.

"It's not right that people are being forced to use food banks after weeks of waiting for Universal Credit payments. The changes announced in the budget are a good start - but they won't solve all of the problems food banks see, and they won't help people making new claims this winter.

"We're seeing soaring levels of need at food banks. If the five-week wait isn't reduced, the only way to stop even more people being forced to food banks this winter will be to pause all new claims to Universal Credit, until funding is in place to reduce the five-week wait.

"Food banks cannot continue to pick up the pieces - we have to make sure our benefits system can protect people from hunger."

Across the East of England, the number of food parcels handed out increased by 14% over the time period.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: "We have just announced that we will be increasing the amount people can earn on Universal Credit by £1,000 before their payment begins to be reduced, to ensure work always pays, and introduced £1 billion to help people moving over from the old benefits system to Universal Credit.

"The reasons why people use food banks are complex, so it's wrong to link a rise to any one cause."

Margaret Greenwood, shadow work and pensions secretary, said: "This Tory government is leaving people at risk of destitution as more and more people are being forced to rely on food banks.

"Nobody should be left waiting weeks for a payment and the Government must stop the botched roll-out of Universal Credit now."

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