-A A +A
Select color visibility that suits you Basic theme Dark theme Darker theme Text only

Benefit levels now driving the increase in foodbank use

26 April 2018

Low income due to benefits is the biggest single, and fastest growing, reason for referral to a foodbank, according to new data from the Trussell Trust.

Left Behind: is Universal Credit Truly Universal

Electronic Referral data to foodbanks in The Trussell Trust’s network

DR UK speaks at APPG on Universal Credit and Disability Agenda

Left Behind: is Universal Credit Truly Universal

The Trust says that although referrals due to benefit sanctions have declined over the last year, those due to ‘reduction in benefit value’ have the fastest growth rate of all referrals made due to a benefit change, and those due to ‘moving to a different benefit’ have also grown significantly.

Its new data shows that Universal Credit (UC) is now a significant factor in many areas.

Analysis of foodbanks either not in full UC areas, or only in full rollout areas for up to three months, showed an average increase of 13%. However, analysis of foodbanks that have been in full UC rollout areas for a year or more shows that these projects experienced an average increase of 52% in the twelve months after the full rollout date in their area.

As with previous studies on foodbank use, there are certain groups for whom ending up locked in poverty is more likely – disabled people and people with long-term health conditions and families with children are particularly at risk.

Highlighting the use of its food banks by disabled people, the Trust says that:

“Disability charities have warned that claimants may lose out under Universal Credit as people will no longer be able to claim disability premiums.

The Government has responded to this by enshrining transitional protection for disabled people – however, this only applies to claimants being migrated onto the system from 2019, rather than people moving onto the system due to a change of circumstances or a new claim.

When asked whether their full Universal Credit award covered their cost of living, 59% said it did not – and only 8% said it did. Only 5% of respondents who stated they had a mental health condition, physical health condition, or were disabled, stated their full UC award covered their cost of living.”

Chief Executive of the Trussell Trust Emma Revie said:

“It’s hard to break free from hunger if there isn’t enough money coming in to cover the rising cost of absolute essentials like food and housing. For too many people staying above water is a daily struggle. It’s completely unacceptable that anyone is forced to turn to a foodbank as a result.

Universal credit is the future of our benefits system. It’s vital we get it right, and ensure levels of payment keep pace with the rising cost of essentials, particularly for groups of people we know are already more likely to need a foodbank – disabled people, people dealing with an illness, families with children and single parents.”

Universal credit for disabled people

Unlike ESA, there is no severe disability premium (SDP) paid within UC.

SDP is paid to those:

  • in receipt of the middle or higher care component DLA or daily living costs component of PIP; and
  • who live on their own or with another adult also entitled to SDP; and
  • where no-one is paid the carer element or carer’s allowance to assist them

SDP is worth £62 a week (or £124 per week if a couple are both entitled).

Left Behind: is Universal Credit Truly Universal

For further information on welfare rights, education issues and social care you will find our factsheets/guides here or for more detailed information you can order a copy of the Disability Rights Handbook from our shop