Food bank usage up by 54% in 2013

  • A charity reports that there has been an increase in the use of food banks from the poor in affluent areas due to a rise in food prices whilst disposable income fell. Can With Opener

    The demand for food banks and charitable help in the UK has increased by 54% in 2013 with twenty million meals provided.

    A report from Oxfam, Church Action on Poverty and the Trussell Trust has said that increased demand is coming from poor people in affluent areas including Cheltenham, Welwyn Garden City and the northern part of the Lake District. The Trussell Trust has said it was helping to feed 300,000 children, a situation it described as a national disgrace. Food prices have risen by 43.5% in the past eight years and over the same period the disposable annual income of the poorest 20% fell by an average of £936, reports the Guardian.

    Charities are calling on the government to take urgent action to collect evidence which will help to understand the scale and cause of increased in food bank usage.

    A government spokesman said: "It's simply not possible to draw conclusions from these unverified figures from disparate sources."

    Chris Mould, chair of the Trussell Trust, called the 300,000 children they are helping a national disgrace. "The troubling reality is that there are also thousands more people struggling with food poverty who have no access to food aid, or are too ashamed to seek help, as well as a large number of people who are only just coping by eating less and buying cheap food."

    Mark Goldring, chief executive of Oxfam, said the fact that food banks were needed in the 21st century was a stain on the national conscience. "We truly are living through a tale of two Britains; while those at the top of the tree may be benefiting from the green shoots of economic recovery, life on the ground for the poorest is getting tougher."

    The spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions said there was still a strong welfare system safety net, overlooked in the report.

    "We've also helped families by cutting the cost of living, more people are in work helping to support their family, benefits are being paid to claimants more quickly and according to independent experts fewer people report struggling with their food bills compared with a few years ago."

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