Foodbank use in east high as families struggle
In the last six months, Trussell Trust foodbanks in the East (including Norfolk) gave 46,367 three day emergency food supplies to people in crisis compared to 47,439 in the same period last year with 17,334 of the three day supplies going to children.
In the East region, benefit delays and changes remain the biggest cause of foodbank use accounting for 39% of total referrals, a decrease compared to 46% last year, with low income rising as a referral cause from 22% to 24%.
The latest figures published by the Trussell Trust nationally show foodbanks in the Trussell Trust network provided 506,369 three day emergency food supplies to people in crisis between April and September 2015, compared to 492,641 people in the same period last year. On average, people needed 1.7 foodbank referrals in this six month period, leading us to estimate that approximately 298,000 people nationally are likely to have been unique users.
In Norfolk there are foodbank networks based in Norwich, Cromer, Diss and Dereham.
The charity, which runs a network of 425 foodbanks across the UK, says that numbers needing emergency food remain at worryingly high levels.
UK foodbank director Adrian Curtis said: “Latest foodbank figures are still at worryingly high levels. We look forward to the day that we can announce a decrease in numbers needing foodbanks, and we welcome the fact that latest national figures show a less dramatic rise.
“Whilst we hope that this is a sign that economic recovery is giving more people access to secure work, several foodbanks are reporting that some agencies and charities who would normally refer people in crisis to foodbanks have been unable to do so because funding reductions have caused their services to be squeezed or closed.
“We’re seeing that hunger remains a major issue for low income families and individuals. When the proposed changes to tax credits are implemented, we are concerned that more working families will not be able to make ends meet, and that we could see a substantial rise in foodbank use as a result. We need to learn more about the realities of life for people struggling on low incomes and make sure that no incomes are too low to live on.”
Winter is likely to see a significant rise in numbers of people needing foodbanks, as people on low incomes face choices between eating and heating. In December 2014, referrals to foodbanks were 53 percent higher than the average across other months, with over 130,000 three day food supplies being given to people in crisis in just one month.
Today’s research from Turn2Us reveals that one in two low income households are struggling to afford their energy costs, despite being in work, and that 33 percent of those struggling have had to skip meals.
Trussell Trust is currently working with npower to pilot ‘Fuelbanks’ which give prepayment meter top ups for people struggling to afford energy as well as food. This will be the first winter that fuelbanks have been in operation.