More than 500,000 people forced to use food banks in UK
More than half a million Britons have resorted to using food banks to stave off hunger and destitution, the Government has been warned.
Major charities signalled their alarm over a dramatic rise in the nation's "hidden hungry" – families who are forced to ask for help to feed themselves – because of wage cuts, the squeeze on benefits and the continuing economic downturn. The numbers have trebled in the past year alone and are likely to continue rising rapidly despite Britain's status as one of the world's wealthiest nations, according to a joint report by Oxfam and Church Action on Poverty.
They say cuts to welfare payments – including below-inflation rises in benefits, new Jobseeker's Allowance sanctions and reassessment of entitlement to invalidity benefits – are the biggest cause of the surge in demand for food banks in all parts of the country. The charities are also fiercely critical of the numbers of mistakes and delays in benefits payments, which leave claimants without cash through no fault of their own and lead to "food uncertainty" among Britain's poorest families.
The hunger crisis has been exacerbated by the falling living standards of many people in employment, who have seen their wages trimmed or their working hours cut. Rising food and fuel prices are also driving families into poverty, the charities add.
The cost of basic foodstuffs has leapt by 35 per cent and the cost of heating a home has jumped by 63 per cent in the past five years – a period in which many incomes have risen only marginally or not at all.
Read more: independent.co.uk