Experts believe that increase in the use of food banks is just the ‘tip of the iceberg’ of UK food poverty.
Over a million people have had to use food banks in the last twelve months. Latest figures from the Trussell Trust, show a 19% year on year increase in food bank users and reveal that hunger, debt and poverty are continuing to affect large numbers of people, reports the Guardian.
Nearly 1.1 million people received at least three days of emergency food from the trust’s 445 food banks in 2014-15 – up from 913,000 the previous year.
Chris Mould, the Trussell Trust chairman, said the figures showed many people were experiencing “catastrophic” problems as a result of low incomes, despite signs of a wider economic recovery. He said: “These needs have not diminished in the last 12 months.”
The shadow work and pensions secretary, Rachel Reeves, said: “David Cameron’s failure to tackle low pay, the bedroom tax and delays in benefit payments have led to more than a million people depending on emergency food aid.”
A spokesman for the Conservative party said: “Increased use of food banks is partially because the last Labour government didn’t let jobcentres direct people to them when they were in need of food. But of course we acknowledge there is still more to do – one family failing to make ends meet each month is a family too many.”
Over a fifth of food bank users were referred due to low-income which meant they were unable to afford food due to a relatively small financial crisis, for instance a boiler breaking down or the need for buying school uniform.
Hannah Lambie-Mumford, a research fellow at the University of Sheffield and a food bank specialist, said the data was “an urgent call to policymakers to address the root cause of food poverty in the UK”.
Dr John Middleton, the vice-president of the Faculty of Public Health, said: “Poverty is already creating massive health issues for people today, and if we do not tackle the root causes of food poverty now, we will see it affecting future generations too.”
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