'Shocking' Rise In Foodbanks

Almost a million adults and children received emergency supplies from food banks in the past year, a 'shocking' rise of 163 per cent on the previous 12 months amid rising living costs, low pay and welfare problems, a new report has revealed.

The Trussell Trust said rising numbers were turning to food banks because their incomes are 'squeezed', despite signs of an economic recovery. 

A record total of more than 913,000 people received three days' emergency food in the last year, with over half blaming benefit delays or changes. The trust now has more than 400 food banks across the UK, although it is opening two a week compared with three in 2012/13. 

The Trussell Trust's chairman, Chris Mould, said: "That 900,000 people have received three days' food from a food bank - close to triple the numbers helped last year - is shocking in 21st-century Britain. 

"But, perhaps most worrying of all, this figure is just the tip of the iceberg of UK food poverty. It doesn't include those helped by other emergency food providers, those living in towns where there is no food bank, people who are too ashamed to seek help or the large number of people who are only just coping by eating less and buying cheap food. 

"In the last year we've seen things get worse, rather than better, for many people on low incomes. It's been extremely tough for a lot of people, with parents not eating properly in order to feed their children and more people than ever experiencing seemingly unfair and harsh benefits sanctions. 

"Unless there is determined policy action to ensure that the benefits of national economic recovery reach people on low incomes, we won't see life get better for the poorest any time soon. 

"A more thoughtful approach to the administration of the benefits regime and sanctions in particular, increasing the minimum wage, introducing the living wage and looking at other measures such as social tariffs for essentials like energy would help to address the problem of UK hunger.'' 

The trust said its food banks were now offering welfare advice and providing essentials such as washing powder, nappies and hygiene products to families at 'breaking point'. 

A letter signed by 36 Anglican bishops and more than 600 church leaders from all major dominations calls for urgent Government action to tackle food poverty. 

A public vigil will be held tonight in Westminster to highlight the issue.