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Three-fold increase of people using food banks in Newham since last year

PUBLISHED: 09:00 09 November 2018 | UPDATED: 09:46 09 November 2018

There has been an increase in people using food banks. Picture: David Jones/PA

There has been an increase in people using food banks. Picture: David Jones/PA

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Universal Credit problems are driving a three-fold increase in the number of residents in Newham turning to food banks, a charity has claimed.

The Trussell Trust said its network provided 1,723 emergency supplies in the area between April and September. Of those, 1,048 were for adults and 675 for children.

That’s three times as many as during the same period in 2017, when 467 food parcels were handed out.

Each package contains 10 meals, which are supposed to last for three days.

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: “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 wait.

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

Across London, the number of food parcels handed out increased by 23per cent over the same time period.

Margaret Greenwood, shadow work and pensions secretary, said: “Nobody should be left waiting weeks for a payment and the government must stop the botched rollout of Universal Credit now.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “Universal Credit replaces an out of date, complex benefits system with cliff edges that disincentivised work and often trapped people in unemployment.

“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.”

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