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WATCH: 15,500 emergency meals given out across Cornwall

WATCH: 15,500 emergency meals given out across Cornwall

Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 7:44am 24th April 2018. (Updated at 7:55am 24th April 2018)

It has been revealed that almost 15,500 emergency meals were dished out at foodbanks across Cornwall last year.

9,667 of those went to adults and 5,829 were given to children.

And it comes after the Camborne, Pool and Redruth centre told Pirate FM it is giving out 2,000 meals to families every single week.

The figures have been released as the foodbank network the Trussell Trust says use is soaring in areas where universal credit has been rolled out.

The number of claimants using universal credit (UC) in the UK is set to double this year, with more than seven million people - both in and out of work - expected to be registered by 2022.

Universal Credit merges existing benefits into a single system - removing the cliff edge between unemployment and work with tapered payments to smooth the transition.

Administered online, with housing benefit going to the claimant not the landlord, the system aims to replicate the responsibilities expected of working people, with a minimum five week gap between claim and payment, and sanctions if requirements are not met.

foodbank3

Now the new data has shown that foodbank usage in areas where Universal Credit has been rolled out went up by 52% in the first 12 months of the new system, an increase four times higher than in areas it has yet to be introduced.

The data compiled by the Trussell Trust also showed its network distributed 1,332,952 three-day emergency food supplies this year, a 13% increase on the previous year.

As a result of the findings, the Trussell Trust has called on the Government to launch an urgent inquiry into the "poor administration" of Universal Credit, and uprate benefit levels in line with inflation, to ensure payments keep pace with the cost of living.

Emma Revie, Chief Executive of the Trussell Trust said: "As a nation we expect no one should be left hungry or destitute - illness, disability, family breakdown or the loss of a job could happen to any of us, and we owe it to each other to make sure sufficient financial support is in place when we need it most.

"Universal Credit is the future of our benefits system.

"It's vital we get it right, and ensure levels of payment keep pace with the rising cost of essentials, particularly for groups of people we know are already more likely to need a food bank - disabled people, people dealing with an illness, families with children and single parents."

 

Universal Credit's roll-out has been delayed, but demands from opposition parties for it to be paused have been refused.

A Department of work and pensions spokesperson said: "The best way to help a person pay their rent is to help them find work, and Universal Credit is succeeding at getting people into work faster, and helping them stay in work longer.

"Our research shows that many people join Universal Credit with pre-existing arrears, but the proportion of people with arrears falls by a third after four months.

"We have made a number of improvements already, including making 100% advance payments, including housing costs, available from day one, and introducing 2 weeks additional rent payment for people joining UC from Housing Benefit.

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"Landlords can also apply to have rent paid directly to them if their tenants are in arrears."

Despite insisting on continuing with the roll-out, a number of significant changes have been made to the benefit as a result of pressure and complaints.

These are the changes:

  • The claimant hotline is now free of charge
  • 18-21 year olds are no longer exempt from housing assistance
  • Landlords can now request direct rent payments unilaterally if two months of rent arrears are accrued
  • The minimum wait period for first payment has been reduced from six to five weeks
  • Housing benefit will now continue for the first two weeks between a claim and first payment.

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