Low wages and lengthy delays in people receiving benefit payments have been blamed for a record number of referrals to Worcester Foodbank last year.
The charity has today (Thursday) confirmed that it provided 6,799 emergency food parcels to hungry individuals and families in 2018/19 – around a 9 per cent increase on the previous year. Almost a third of the supplies were needed to feed children.
It’s a bleak picture which is reflected across many parts of the country with the Trussell Trust revealing almost 1.6 million food parcels were given to people facing hunger last year – the most its network of food banks has ever distributed.
Low income remains one of the biggest causes of referrals in Worcester, with a growing number of working households and people on benefits not receiving enough money to cover essential bills.
The rollout of Universal Credit in the city last autumn has compounded these problems, pushing more people into crisis due to lengthy delays of five weeks or longer before claimants receive their first benefit payment.
Grahame Lucas, Worcester Foodbank Manager, said: “The bottom line is that too many people are simply not receiving enough income to cover basic essentials like food and rent – that is unacceptable.”
“We’re still in the relatively early stages of the Universal Credit rollout in our city and yet the difficulties it is already causing our clients are profound. We’ve no hope of turning this around until action is taken to end the lengthy delays in people receiving payments.”