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Foodbank families with just £50 a week to live on

Foodbank families with just £50 a week to live on

Published by Emma Carton at 8:58am 5th November 2019. (Updated at 4:03pm 5th November 2019)

A charity with foodbanks across Cornwall has revealed the true extent of families in poverty.

The Trussell Trust gave out almost 9,000 emergency food supplies in the Duchy last year.

More than a third of those were from its centre in St Austell.

Now it warns nationwide, almost everyone using its centres is having to live on just £50 a week.

They include a woman who had to switch to Universal Credit after losing the benefits she had as her mum's carer.

"Oh god, what am I going to do? I've got bills to pay".

Foodbank Trussell Trust
A charity with foodbanks across Cornwall reveals almost everyone using its centres is living on just £50 a week


"I find with Universal Credit that for what they're giving people to live on and what they've got to pay out, it's not much to live on - especially when it's monthly.

"Before I wasn't getting monthly payments - the benefits I was on before. I'm finding it a struggle just to try and live on a month's payment.

"I realised that to go on Universal Credit you have to wait a good three months before you get any payment whatsoever.

"I thought 'oh god, what am I going to do', because I've got bills to pay".

Foodbank User

Trussell Trust Salisbury Foodbank Warehouse
The Trussell Trust says it gave out almost 9,000 emergency meals in Cornwall last year alone


What is the true extent of Britain's foodbank crisis?

Foodbank charity, The Trussell Trust, commissioned the State of Hunger 2019 report which was conducted by Heriot-Watt University.

It found that over 94% of people at food banks are destitute, while three-quarters live in households affected by ill-health or disability.

Meanwhile, the average weekly income of people at food banks is only £50 after paying rent, and almost one in five have no money coming in at all in the month before being referred for emergency food.

The report identified three reasons: issues with the benefits system, ill health and challenging life experiences, and a lack of local support.

Two-thirds of people at food banks were affected by problems with benefits in the last year.

The key issues include a reduction in the value of benefit payments, being turned down for disability benefits, having benefits stopped, and delays in payments such as the five-week wait for universal credit.

Experts have estimated that a £1 increase in the weekly value of main benefits could lead to 84 fewer food parcels a year in a typical local authority.

As a result, the Trussell Trust is calling for three key changes as a priority to protect people from hunger:

  • End the five-week wait for universal credit
  • Benefit payments must cover the true cost of living
  • Funding for councils to provide local crisis support should be ring-fenced and increased
Trussell Trust Salisbury Foodbank Warehouse
A report, commissioned by The Trussell Trust, is calling for urgent changes to the benefits' system


Chief Executive of the Trussell Trust, Emma Revie, is demanding changes to the benefits system.

"People are being locked into extreme poverty and pushed to the doors of food banks.

"Hunger in the UK isn't about food - it's about people not having enough money. People are trying to get by on £50 a week and that's just not enough for the essentials, let alone a decent standard of living."

She added: "Many of us are being left without enough money to cover the most basic costs. We cannot let this continue in our country.

"This can change - our benefits system could be the key to unlocking people from poverty if our government steps up and makes the changes needed. How we treat each other when life is hard speaks volumes about us as a nation. We can do better than this".

Emma Revie

The Trussell Trust report calls for local crisis support funding for councils to be ring-fenced and increased.

"The next government needs to commit to restore funding to councils for local welfare assistance schemes and increase the local housing allowance, enabling councils to support tenants at risk of homelessness in the short-term and providing the local safety net needed to help those struggling to cope with welfare reforms, including the roll out of universal credit".

Cllr Richard Watts, Local Government Association

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