Foodbanks prepare to hand out six emergency parcels a minute to desperate Britsby Ben Glaze, https://www.mirror.co.uk/authors/ben-glaze/
Foodbanks are set to hand out six emergency food parcels a minute to hungry Britons this autumn, a shock study warns today.
Analysis for the country's biggest foodbank network, the Trussell Trust, predicts a 61% surge in demand – meaning it will distribute 846,000 packages in the last three months of the year as desperate families struggle to put meals on the table.
With each food parcel containing enough ingredients for three meals a day for three days, that equates to the charity providing 7,614,000 meals in October, November and December.
The forecast represents an extra 300,000 packages – and 2.7 million meals – on the same period last year(2019) when 524,000 parcels and 4.7 million meals were distributed.
The feared spike in demand in the run-up to Christmas comes as the Government prepares to end its coronavirus furlough scheme next month – potentially unleashing an unemployment “tsunami” as firms lay off staff.
Trussell Trust chief executive Emma Revie said: “Communities throughout the country have shown enormous resilience in helping more people than ever before.
“But foodbanks and other community charities cannot continue to pick up the pieces.
“None of us should need a charity’s help to put food on the table.”
The dire prediction comes from modelling from the Institute for Social Policy, Housing, Equalities Research (I-Sphere) at Heriot-Watt University, and follows an unprecedented period of sustained pressure on foodbanks.
During the start of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown in April, 52% of people who used a foodbank had never needed one before, according to Trussell Trust data.
Some 99,300 households who had never previously visited a foodbank went looking for help between April and June.
The charity says families with children have been hardest hit.
Statistics revealed a 95% increase in parcels given out to households with kids in April, compared to April 2019.
The figures come in the Trust's latest report, 'Lockdown, Lifelines and the Long Haul Ahead', published today(MON).
It warns that mass unemployment predicted on a scale not seen since the early 1990s will trigger fresh spikes in poverty.
The I-Sphere team fears an extra 672,905 additional people will be deemed destitute by the end of the year – meaning they cannot afford essentials like housing, energy and food.
But the Trust believes the situation can be turned around if “this evidence is prioritised and acted upon by government during the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review and Budget”.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to deliver a Budget this autumn.
Ms Revie said: “Our research finds that Covid-19 has led to tens of thousands of new people needing to use a food bank for the first time.
“This is not right.
“If we don’t take action now, there will be further catastrophic rises in poverty in the future.”
But, offering a slimmer of hope, Ms Revie added: “It doesn't have to be like this.
“The pandemic has exposed the power of what happens when we stand together in the face of adversity.
“We must harness this power to create the changes needed to prevent many more people being locked into poverty this winter.
“With the furlough scheme set to wind down, we must act now to put in place protection for each other.
“The Budget and Comprehensive Spending Review present a pivotal opportunity to put things right.
“We must take it to help us weather the storm left in the wake of Covid-19.”
The Trust called on ministers to:
- “Protect people’s incomes by locking in the £20 rise to Universal Credit brought in at the start of the pandemic”
- “Help people hold on to more of their benefits through the economic crisis by suspending benefit debt deductions until a fairer approach to repayments can be introduced”
- “Make local safety nets as strong as possible by investing £250million in local welfare assistance in England”
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Reynolds said: “Months into this crisis too many people are still falling through the gaps in the safety net and children are going hungry as a result.
“The Government’s incompetence is worsening already unacceptable levels of child poverty in the UK.
“While the changes to Universal Credit are welcome, the Government must take further, urgent action to make sure that no-one goes hungry during the crisis.”
Liberal Democrat work and pensions spokeswoman Wendy Chamberlain said: "Families up and down the country are struggling like never before to put food on the table.
“These forecasts show the situation could get even worse as we head towards Christmas.
"The Government needs to do much more to support people hardest hit.
“Ministers must commit to maintaining the emergency increase in Universal Credit, and extend the furlough scheme to prevent an avalanche of job losses."
Feeding Britain director Andrew Forsey compared the effort of foodbanks during the pandemic with the “Little Ships” rescue of troops from Dunkirk in 1940.
He said: “These figures are incredibly troubling.
“They show that something very serious has been happening to the poorest individuals in our society and this has been amplified by the pandemic.
“That's before we even factor in the similar numbers of foodbanks operating outside the Trussell Trust who have contributed to this social Dunkirk of an operation to prevent people being hungry.”