Benefits must 'keep pace with the cost of living'

Credit: PA

A food bank charity said the current benefits system does not properly cover the cost of living in Wales.

The Trussell Trust said it gave out 98,000 emergency food handouts in Wales in the last twelve months; an increase of 3% from the previous year.

That is compared to 27% the previous year.

The Trussell Trust also said the rollout of universal credit is to blame for increasing levels of food bank usage.

The new benefits system has been criticised after many people experienced delays in receiving payments.

According to the charity, food banks in areas where universal credit has been in fully rolled out have experienced a 52% increase in usage.

What is universal credit?

Introduced in 2013, universal credit aims to simplify the benefits system and ensure that employment always pays more than benefits.

It means benefits such as child tax credit and housing benefit, are replaced by a single payment.

Universal credit aims to simplify benefits payments

Tony Graham, Director of Wales for The Trussell Trust says payments need to “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.”

The Department of Work and Pensions disputed the charity’s findings, saying the research was “carried out before our significant improvements to Universal Credit came into effect.”

“The reasons why people use food banks are complex, so it’s wrong to link a rise to any one cause.”

They added that people on universal credit are “moving into work faster and staying in work longer.”