Food Banks and Universal Credit

Since austerity became official in 2010 food banks have grown exponentially. With an estimated 2,000 distribution centres across the country and tens of thousands of volunteers, they are now a key part of the state’s welfare ‘safety net’. To use a food bank, a referral is needed, typically from social service or housing support officers, but also from agencies such as local charities or Citizens Advice. The number of people resorting to food banks mushroomed after Benefit sanctions were introduced in 2012. (These can be applied at a bureaucrat’s discretion in cases such as failure to attend jobcentre appointments, interviews or health checks. Benefits are cut for periods from four weeks to three years.) Research by Oxford university found that for every 10 extra benefit sanctions imposed between one three-month period and the next, five more food parcels were handed out. Now the Trussell Trust, which covers two-thirds of distribution areas, reports a 6.64 per cent average rise in referrals for emergency food in 2016/17, but a 16.85 per cent increase in universal credit rollout areas.

AttachmentSize
Dundee city food bank.jpg53.89 KB