Universal Credit must ensure families are fed:
• 51% rise in food bank use in Universal Credit Areas; 13% rise in other areas
• The Trussell Trust’s report on the impact of Universal Credit report is clear – families are being pushed into financial crisis and towards foodbanks
• Churches welcome this important report and call on Government to focus on ensuring Universal Credit meets families’ basic needs
“A benefit system that allows families to go hungry is a benefit system that is failing,” said Paul Morrison who advises a group of national Christian Churches on poverty.
“The Government’s drive to reduce spending and to focus on work incentives means we have lost sight of the purpose of a welfare system – ensuring that families are fed. Cuts to Universal Credit have been justified as providing an incentive to work. It is now clear that reducing and delaying the incomes of some of the poorest families has significant consequences including hunger.
“The work of the Trussell Trust and the others providing emergency food aid is vital. Many churches are committed to hosting and supporting these projects, but it is a source of sadness and anger that emergency food is needed more and more.”
Over the past year there have been increasing reports from churches and ministers of numerous families seeking help because of Universal Credit.
The Rev David Hardman, a minister based in Southwark, commented on his recent experiences: “A new father called at my door. He was struggling; waiting for a delayed Universal Credit payment and doing his best to keep his family going.”
“The foodbank had helped but it became clear that his baby needed nappies and other supplies, he just didn’t have the money to pay for them. The church helped by buying what he needed for his baby I also made sure he had money on his travel card so he could keep looking for work and avoid being sanctioned. It is a privilege to be able to help families like these – but we shouldn’t need to and certainly not so often.”
Paul Morrison concluded: “Most people who struggle because of Universal Credit will not visit a food bank or knock on a church door. The food bank clients are the tip of the iceberg, a warning sign that must be heeded if we are to prevent disaster for many families”.