Food bank network provides record level of support

By Sean Coughlan
BBC News

  • Published
food bankImage source, PA
Image caption,
The charity reports rising demand for supplies from food banks

A food bank network provided almost 1.2 million batches of three-day food and basic supplies in the past year.

These are the highest figures on record from the Trussell Trust network of food banks.

The Trust has linked increasing demand with the rollout of the universal credit benefits reform.

But the Department for Work and Pensions says food bank use has "complex" causes and it is "misleading" to point to any one cause.

The food bank figures, from April 2016 to March 2017, show an increase of about 74,000 emergency supplies provided compared with the previous year, based on a network of more than 400 distribution centres.

The charity says that delays in benefits, debt and insecure employment are among the reasons that people have to turn to food banks for help.

In particular, the charity says that the introduction of universal credit seems to be causing a gap in benefits which causes families to turn to food banks.

Trust chief executive David McAuley said the findings provided an "early warning" about "unforeseen consequences" from the benefits changes.

But a Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said there were more complex reasons underlying the use of food banks.

"Under universal credit people are moving into work faster and staying in work longer than under the old system," he said.

The food bank charity reports that more than 400,000 of the recipients were children.

Official figures published last month show that most child poverty is now concentrated in working families.

More than two-thirds of children classified as living in poverty are in families where at least one parent is working - the highest levels on record.