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  1. ITV Report

Record numbers relying on region's foodbanks

There's been a surge in the number of people using foodbanks in the East of England.

In the past 12 months the Trussell Trust said it gave out 129,261 emergency food parcels to those in crisis in the region - that's up 13% on the previous year. 48,998 of those parcels went to children.

The charity said people on benefits were often unable to afford even the most essential items.

It said low income was the most common reason for referral to a foodbank in the East (29%) The other main primary referral reasons in 2017-18 were benefit delays (25%) and benefit changes (15%).

Credit: PA

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.

– Emma Revie, Chief Executive, The Trussell Trus
Credit: PA

The charity is consequently calling for benefit levels to be uprated in line with inflation to ensure payments keep pace with the cost of living, particularly for disabled people and families with dependent children who are particularly at risk of needing a foodbank.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said the reasons why people use food banks are complex, so it's wrong to link a rise to any one cause.

This research is based on anecdotal evidence from a small, self-selecting sample of less than 0.04% of current Universal Credit claimants, whereas Universal Credit is working for the vast majority who claim it

It was also carried out before our significant improvements to Universal Credit came into effect at the Budget.

– Department for Work and Pensions spokesman