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More need for food aid, says report

by
07 June 2013

by a staff reporter

DIOCESE OF WAKFIELD

Raising awareness: the Bishop of Pontefract, the Rt Revd Tony Robinson, helps pack emergency food parcels at St Catherine's church centre, Wakefield, on Wednesday

Raising awareness: the Bishop of Pontefract, the Rt Revd Tony Robinson, helps pack emergency food parcels at St Catherine's church centre, Wakefield...

MORE than half a million people in Britain are now reliant on food aid, leading poverty charities have said.

A report on the growing reliance on foodbanks, Walking the Breadline, published by Oxfam and Church Action on Poverty, says that the current situation is a "national disgrace", and is the result of harsh reforms to the welfare system.

The charities' report cites figures from the Trussell Trust - Britain's largest foodbank provider - showing that changes to the benefits system are the main reason why people turn to foodbanks.

Changes to crisis-loan eligibility rules, delays in payments, Jobseeker's Allowance sanctions, and sickness-benefit reassessments were most frequently cited as reasons for relying on foodbanks.

It has seen a trebling in the numbers at its foodbanks in the past 12 months to 350,000 people, but hundreds more foodbanks, frequently run by churches, have sprung up across the country in the past year.

The charities' report states: "There is clear evidence that the benefit-sanctions regime has gone too far, and is leading to destitution, hardship, and hunger on a large scale. There is a real risk that the benefit cuts and the introduction of Universal Credit . . . will lead to even larger numbers being forced to turn to foodbanks. Foodbanks may not have the capacity to cope with the increased level of demand."

The chief executive of Oxfam, Mark Goldring, said: "It is unacceptable that this is happening in the seventh wealthiest nation on the planet."

The charities, backed by the Trussell Trust, are calling for an urgent parliamentary inquiry into the relationship between the Government's welfare-reform changes and the growth of foodbanks.

www.church-poverty.org.uk

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