The Trussell Trust runs the largest network of food banks in the UK, and so is really at the sharp end of understanding how the poorer members of our society are affected by economic circumstances.
In a recent report[i] the Trust revealed how coronavirus has affected food bank use, with a huge rise in people needing to use a food bank for the first time. The Trussell Trust’s records also show that families with children are being hit the hardest during the crisis.
Analysis carried out by Heriot-Watt University with support from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research estimates that if changes aren’t made this autumn, there is likely to be a 61% rise in need at food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network this winter.
The charity warns that with mass unemployment predicted on a scale not seen since the early nineties, there will be further rises in poverty with 670,000 additional people classed as destitute by the end of 2020. People are defined as destitute if they cannot afford essentials such as shelter, food, heating, lighting, clothing and footwear, and basic toiletries.[ii]
This is on top of year-on-year rises in the number of people unable to afford food and forced to visit food banks across the UK.
There are many calls for the Chancellor to extend the “Job Retention Scheme” and to continue helping struggling companies with their debts.
The Trust would add that he should also “lock in the £20 rise to Universal Credit brought in at the start of the pandemic, help people hold on to more of their benefits through the economic crisis by suspending benefit debt deductions until a fairer approach to repayments can be introduced, and make local safety nets as strong as possible by investing £250m in local welfare assistance in England.”[iii]
They believe that these measures would substantially help avoid these forecasts coming to pass.
With just over a month to go before the “Job Retention Scheme” ends, and estimates of unemployment rising, the Chancellor needs to act quickly to avert these possible outcomes.