Concerns raised more people could rely on food banks
A food bank is warning that more than a million people in the UK could be unable to afford food and essentials when Universal Credit cuts are implemented.
The Government is expected to cut the payments by £20 a week this October, the biggest overnight cut to social security since the Second World War.
But those at Cramlington Foodbank say it comes amid growing need at food banks throughout the North East, as well as year-on-year increases in numbers of emergency food parcels distributed to local people.
Joyce Docherty, manager at the food bank which is part of the Trussell Trust network, said she and her team of volunteers did not know how people would cope with the upcoming cut when they were already struggling to feed themselves.
The food bank has already started supplying people with specially prepared food parcels that only contain food products that can be eaten cold.
Joyce said: “We’ve recently had to start issuing food parcels that contain cold products only for people who can’t afford to turn on their gas or electricity.
"These might include sandwiches from the local supermarkets or even cold baked beans.
"It really is heart-breaking to know that there are people living with this level of poverty right here on our doorstep.
“We’re seeing people from every walk of life coming through the doors of the food banks.
"The pandemic has hit lots of people hard and it’s not unusual to see families where both parents have lost their jobs.
“It’s a tough time at the moment for lots of people and the cut to Universal Credit this October is extremely concerning.
"Many families are already living on the breadline, so taking this money away when it was already a small amount in the first place is only going to make things harder.
“For lots of people, taking away the £20 a week could be the difference between having a hot meal one day or not and this is hitting as winter comes.”
Joyce added: “We want to reduce this number of food parcels we provide because emergency food is not the answer. People should have enough money to get by.
"But this cut is going to drive numbers up yet further.
"That’s why I’m urging people to support the national Keep the Lifeline campaign and write to their local MP calling for the UK government to reverse its planned £20 a week cut this October.”
To join the campaign, visit: trusselltrust.org/KeepTheLifeline
Garry Lemon, Director of Policy and Research at the Trussell Trust, said: “More than a million people could be forced to turn to food banks as the UK government plans to cut Universal Credit payments by £20 a week this October.
“Cutting this lifeline will be a devastating blow for millions of households already struggling to make ends meet.
"It would be wrong of the government to take away £20 a week from already precarious incomes and push even more people through the doors of food banks.
“But it doesn’t have to be like this.
"The answer must be to ensure our social security system provides people with enough money to cover the essentials.
"At the very least we’re saying this October, the government must choose to protect people and choose to keep the lifeline."