Britain’s biggest food bank charity urges government action as it predicts ‘busiest summer ever’
A major foodbank charity has urged ministers to do more to tackle poverty in Britain as it predicted its “busiest summer” yet in foodbank handouts.
The Trussell Trust, which claims to run around two-thirds of the UK's foodbanks, said it expected the number of parcels given to children over the school holiday period to surpass last year’s record.
New figures show 87,496 packages went to children in the UK during the summer months in 2018 – a 20% increase on the same period in 2017.
Adults meanwhile received 151,700 parcels – an 18% hike on the previous year.
The charity says over a third of all emergency food parcels distributed by food banks in its network of around 1,200 go to children, with higher demand coming in the absence of free school meals.
It said ministers must ensure parents in work were being paid the "real Living Wage" and that benefits kept up with rising prices, in a bid to stem the increase in foodbank use.
The charity's chief executive, Emma Revie, said: "Food banks will do all they can to help families over the summer, with many running holiday clubs to support parents who find that their income simply won’t stretch to meet the extra pressure of missing free school meals or paying for additional childcare during the holidays."
"But no charity can replace the dignity of having enough money for the basics.
"While it’s great to see schemes in place to tackle holiday hunger, food banks and other emergency food provision cannot, and must not, be a long term solution to poverty.
"Ultimately, we should all be protected from needing a food bank’s help, no matter the time of the year.
“If we are to end hunger in the UK, we need to make sure everyone is anchored from being swept into poverty.
"The Government needs to ensure benefit payments reflect the true cost of living and work is secure, paying the real Living Wage.
"Every family should have enough money coming in for a decent standard of living. No child should face going hungry in the UK.”
Between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019, volunteers provided 1,583,668 emergency supplies to those in crisis – a 19% jump on the year before.
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Margaret Greenwood, said: “It is simply wrong that families should have to rely on food banks to feed their children at any time.
“The extra costs families face during school holidays can often push them into severe hardship.
“The high level of housing costs, the spread of low paid, insecure work and deep cuts to social security have left families struggling to meet basic household bills.
“The Government cannot simply abdicate responsibility for families being pushed into poverty and children going hungry in the summer.
“Labour will stop the rollout of Universal Credit and make tackling child poverty a key priority for Government once again.”
A Government spokesperson said: “Our priority is to support people to improve their lives through work while helping low income families with the cost of living.
"That’s why we have raised the personal allowance to take 1.74 million of the lowest paid out of income tax altogether, frozen fuel duty for the ninth consecutive year, increased the National Living Wage and confirmed that the benefit freeze will end next year.
“Meanwhile, we’ve seen record high employment and wages continuing to outstrip inflation so people have more money in their pocket.”