Foodbanks get ready for a huge demand after benefits are cut

Foodbanks are bracing for an increase in demand this autumn after the Government’s cut to Universal Credit.

South London foodbank bosses have warned that axing the £20 per week “uplift” will force thousands more people to seek help to get food on the table.

In Southwark, 41,915 people were claiming Universal Credit in August this year, with more than 40 per cent of them in work.

Neighbouring Lambeth has 40,498 claimants, in stark contrast to Kensington and Chelsea which has 11,064.

Alison Williams, spokeswoman for Lambeth’s Trussell Trust-run foodbanks, said: “Come November, we are expecting to see a significant rise in demand.

“One in 10 people say it is very likely that they won’t be able to cook food because they won’t be able to afford to heat their ovens.

One in five are unlikely to be able to use heating after that £80 (per month) cut.

“We’re expecting to see significant rises in debt, significant rises in people being referred to the foodbanks because people will be choosing between heating and eating.

“The Universal Credit uplift cut, followed by rising energy prices, followed by an interest rate rise means we’re looking at a perfect storm come Christmas.”

Ms Williams added that the Trussell Trust was campaigning for a reversal to the Government’s axing of the £20 per week “uplift”, which was brought in at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and ended on October 6.

She said: “We want a reversal to that decision. That is what is going to make the difference.

We don’t want those 40,000 people in Lambeth who are just about managing to fall into poverty. We need to keep that lifeline.

“Thank God that we are here but it is not right that we should be here.

“The public have been so generous. Nobody faults their incredible generosity but we need more if we are going to get through this autumn.”

Chris Price, the chief executive of Pecan, a Peckham-based charity which runs Southwark Foodbank and Peckham Pantry, said: “When people heard the cut was going to come in, they didn’t have an answer as to how they were going to survive.

“Most people that come through to the foodbank are on Universal Credit and are in employment programmes as well.”

In the first six months of this year, an estimated 4,700 people were using Southwark foodbank, down from the staggering numbers during the pandemic.

But Mr Price said that he was expecting numbers to jump to 8,000 to 10,000 people by the end of the year.

He said: “When we saw a significant rise in the financial need during the pandemic, the support was stunning.

We were never short on food because of the support from the local community. We live in such a caring borough. It really amazes me time after time.

“Now we need stuff across the board. Whatever people can donate.”

Six million families on low incomes will be affected by the removal of the uplift, which could see 1.2 million people forced to skip meals, according to the Trussell Trust.

Marina Ahmad, Lambeth and Southwark London Assembly Member, said: “I am really concerned that it is going to be a very difficult winter for many low-income and vulnerable households in Lambeth.”

To support Lambeth foodbanks in Vauxhall, Clapham Park, Waterloo and Brixton and West Norwood visit https://www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank/ and to donate to Southwark foodbank, visit https://www.pecan.org.uk/donate

 

Pictured: A volunteer at the warehouse for South London foodbanks

 

 


 

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