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Issues with benefits forces 21 per cent rise in demand for emergency help at Wisbech Foodbank

Wisbech Foodbank provided 3,006 three-day emergency food parcels to local people between April 2018 to March 2019 with 901 going to children.

Wisbech Foodbank volunteers pictured at one of their regular collections at Asda - the Foodbank has seen a 21 per cent rise in demand.
Wisbech Foodbank volunteers pictured at one of their regular collections at Asda - the Foodbank has seen a 21 per cent rise in demand.

That is a rise of nearly a quarter on the previous year and the foodbank charity the Trussell Trust is blaming issues with local people being switched to Universal Credit and the length of time they have to wait for payments.

The local food bank’s figures feed into a larger national picture with a record increase in food bank use across the UK reported by the Trussell Trust.

Wisbech Foodbank is backing calls from the Trussell Trust to ensure the benefits system is able to protect people from poverty.

The figures from Wisbech Foodbank are a 21 per cent increase on the same period last year. The charity believes the local increase is due to people struggling with continued issues with benefit payments; issues with Universal Credit such as the five-week wait; insecure work and low wages.

Wisbech Foodbank shares the concerns of other food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network about Universal Credit – it is not the only benefit payment people referred to the food bank have experienced problems with, but the issues faced by local people moving onto the new system are significant.

The food bank has needed to give emergency food and support to people who are waiting at least five- weeks for a first Universal Credit payment and those not able to access support or receiving payments that don’t cover the cost of essentials.

Margaret Gibbs, food bank coordinator of Wisbech Foodbank said: “No one in Wisbech should need a food bank’s help and we want to see an end to local people needing emergency food at all. It doesn’t have to be this way - our benefits system is supposed to protect us all from being swept into poverty. Universal Credit should be part of the solution but currently the five week wait is leaving many without enough money to cover the basics. This isn’t right.

“Until we reach a future where food banks are no longer needed, we’ll continue to provide vital support. when it matters most. We’re dedicated to ensuring that people in our community without enough money for food are able to access emergency support. Our vital work in the community has only been possible in the last year because of the incredible generosity shown by local people in donating food, time and funds. Thank you.”

The running costs for the food bank are raised locally to enable them to continue their work. Costs include rent of a space to sort and distribute donated food, other overheads like utilities and insurances, admin costs and food when there are shortages. The food bank welcomes any new offers of help with – local businesses, organisations and individuals interested in supporting the food bank’s work can find out more at www.wisbech.foodbank.org.uk

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