More people in Bedford using food bank now than during first year of pandemic
Charity warns the number of those needing help will rise over the winter
More people are relying on food banks in Bedford than during the coronavirus pandemic last year, new figures from the Trussell Trust show.
The charity said it is not right that so many people across the UK are facing destitution and warned the need for food banks will rise over the winter.
In Bedford, 5,327 emergency food parcels – containing three or seven days' worth of supplies – were handed out by the Trussell Trust between April and September.
This was up from 4,058 during the same period in 2020, and above the 3,704 handed out in 2019.
They were among 935,749 parcels handed out by the charity across the UK over the six-month period, including 97,500 in the East of England.
Though below the record 1.3 million dispensed during this period last year, it was 11 per cent more than in 2019.
This means around 5,100 emergency food parcels were provided for people across the UK every day, including almost 2,000 for children.
The Trussell Trust said it expects this to rise to more than 7,000 a day in December, as poorer families struggle with rising fuel costs, inflation and the recent removal of the £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift.
The figures do not include the number of people helped by thousands of other groups providing food aid such as community organisations and independent food banks.
Emma Revie, Trussell Trust chief executive, said: “Everyone in the UK should be able to afford the essentials – to buy their own food and heat their homes.
“Yet food banks in our network continue to see more and more people facing destitution with an increase in food parcels going to children. This is not right.”
She added: “The answer must be for us to have the stability of a strong enough social security system to protect any one of us when we need it."
More than 350,000 parcels went to children between April and September this year – 15 per cent more than in 2019.
In Bedford, 1,836 were handed to youngsters, compared to 1,407 last year
Jonathan Reynolds, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, said: “Thousands of food parcels given out every day to kids is frankly a disgrace – Britain deserves better than this.
“Conservative complacency and chaos has created a cost of living crisis with tax hikes, cuts to Universal Credit and soaring bills hammering families this winter."
The Government said Universal Credit claimants will benefit from a newly reduced taper rate and increased work allowance, while a Household Support Fund will help vulnerable families in England afford essentials over the coming months.
A spokesman said: “We are committed to supporting people on low incomes and the changes we have made to Universal Credit will see nearly two million of the lowest paid better off by around £1,000 a year.
“The most vulnerable, including those who can’t work, can get additional help with essential costs through our new £500 million support fund.”