Hull food banks say situation will 'get worse' if planned cuts to benefits go ahead

A food bank owner in Hull, says the situation will 'get worse' if the planned cuts to Universal Credit go ahead.

A report by the Trussell Trust found one in five Universal Credit claimants fear they'll be forced to turn to food banks if the government scraps the £20 uplift to the benefit.

The increase introduced last year to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, is set to end in April - with no sign that the government will change its mind.

Robbie Keane runs a food bank in East Hull, where there's been a spike in people using them - on average he hands out 240 food parcels a day.

He says if the cuts are made, the increase in people using food banks will affect both the users and the people who provide the service.

''How do you tell a family that you don't have any food to give them? Where do they then turn? It is very very difficult at the moment.''

The charity says the uplift has prevented tens of thousands of people from needing to use a food bank.

The report revealed 1.2 million people on the benefit would 'very likely' turn to a food bank for help with £20 less a week.

It comes as there were record levels of need experienced at food banks throughout the charity's network during the pandemic, with huge increases in emergency food going to children.

The Trussell Trust joins others in urging the government to make the uplift permanent, or maintain it for another year to create a ''hunger free future.''

Emma Revie, the chief executive at the charity, said there could be ''shocking consequences'' ahead.

''This survey reveals the shocking consequences of what lies ahead if this lifeline is cut in April. This isn't right. No one should have to suffer the indignity of relying on emergency food.  It's clear that action is needed to ensure our benefits system provides people with enough money to cover the essentials.''

The UK government said it is committed to supporting the lowest paid families in the pandemic and beyond to ensure that ''no one is left behind.''

''We’ve targeted our support to those most in need by raising the living wage, spending hundreds of billions to safeguard jobs, boosting welfare support by billions and introducing the £170m Covid Winter Grant Scheme to help children and families stay warm and well-fed during the coldest months.”