The spiralling numbers of people suffering food poverty in the UK caused by a decade of austerity & compounded by the coronavirus crisis, is truly shocking. This is why a coalition of anti-poverty groups is calling on the government to introduce a Coronavirus Emergency Income Support Scheme to help those affected weather the storm. And we’re asking you to add your voice, too!
Prior to this crisis, emergency food providers in Brighton & Hove distributed 420 food parcels a week. By the week of 27 April 2020, 40 emergency food projects were giving out food parcels to 3001 households (supporting 4831-plus people including at least 996 children) & serving 3966 meals. This is an increase of more than 600%.
This desperate picture is repeated in towns across the country. According to new figures from The Trussell Trust (which operates 1,200 food banks), there was an 81% increase in people needing its food banks at the end of March 2020, compared with the same time last year. And The Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN), which represents 842 independent food banks, has reported an average 59% increase across its food banks from February to March 2020 – 17 times higher than last year.
‘Frontline charities are working fit to bust to help people but at the gigantic scale of food insecurity we are now seeing, charity is not the answer,’ says Kath Dalmeny, chief executive of Sustain, the food and farming alliance. ‘Everyone able to get to the shops needs money so they can buy food themselves, enabling frontline groups to focus on helping those struggling for other reasons such as homelessness, illness, disability or being housebound or isolated due to old age. We need an adequate social security safety net and a proper assessment of the income and food needs of millions of people in the UK over the months to come, not just crumbs from the table.’
This is why Child Poverty Action Group, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, The Children’s Society, The Trussell Trust, IFAN, Step Change and Turn2Us are calling for a taskforce to help devise a time-limited Coronavirus Emergency Income Support Scheme so that everyone has enough money to afford the essentials. The scheme would build on the government’s Job Retention Scheme and Self-employed Income Support Scheme, and have three main aims:
1️⃣ Provide an income level that keeps people out of poverty
▪️Ensure increases in Universal Credit are reflected in increases to legacy benefits.
▪️Implement further temporary increases to ensure no one falls into hardship.
▪️Lift the benefits cap during this time. Raise Statutory Sick Pay and extend the scheme to lower paid groups.
2️⃣ Reduce costs to help people stay afloat
▪️Extend the suspension of benefit deductions to cover advance payments.
▪️Raise Local Housing Allowance to cover median rents.
▪️Carry out a rapid assessment of the Hardship Fund to ensure councils can provide crisis grants to vulnerable people & provide extra funding where necessary.
▪️Put in place temporary protocols to prevent hardship caused by debt and arrears.
3️⃣ Ensure no one in financial need misses out
▪️Suspend the two-child limit.
▪️Increase benefits for those raising children, eg through child benefit, the child element of Universal Credit and child tax credit.
▪️Suspend No Recourse to Public Funds conditions.
Read more about the campaign here – https://www.trusselltrust.org/2020/05/01/coalition-call/