1. ITV Report

'Unacceptable' rise in food bank referrals in Wales

Over 100,000 three day emergency food supplies were distributed in Wales. Credit: ITV Wales

More than 100,000 three-day emergency food supplies were distributed by food banks in Wales in the last year, according to figures released by a charity.

The Trussell Trust, which run a network of food banks across Wales, handed out a total of 113,373 emergency applies between April 2018 and March this year. Of that number, over 40,000 supplies were given to children.

The charity say the period was the busiest it has seen since it opened. Credit: PA
Three day emergency food supplies distributed in Wales.
Emergency supplies distributed to children.

Cardiff saw the biggest number of referrals made at 13,248 in the last year while referrals in the Rhondda Cynon Taff increased by over 40%.

The charity's Chief Executive, Emma Revie, said the need for anyone to use a food bank was ''unacceptable.''

What we are seeing year-upon-year is more and more people struggling to eat because they simply cannot afford food. This is not right.

Enough is enough. We know this situation can be fixed – that’s why we’re campaigning to create a future where no one needs a food bank. Our benefits system is supposed to protect us all from being swept into poverty. Universal Credit should be part of the solution but currently the five week wait is leaving many without enough money to cover the basics. As a priority, we’re urging the government to end the wait for Universal Credit to ease the pressure on thousands of households.

Ultimately, it’s unacceptable that anyone should have to use a food bank in the first place. No charity can replace the dignity of having financial security. That’s why in the long-term, we’re urging the Government to ensure benefit payments reflect the true cost of living and work is secure, paying the real Living Wage, to help ensure we are all anchored from poverty.

– Emma Revie, Chief Executive

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) denied that claimants of Universal Credit wait for their first payment.

It is not true to say that people need to wait five weeks for their first payment. Universal Credit is available to claimants on day one.

It also cannot be claimed that Universal Credit is driving the overall use of foodbanks or that benefit changes and delays are driving growth.

The Trust’s own analysis shows a substantial fall in the share of parcels being issued due to benefit payment delays.

The best route out of poverty is to help people into sustainable employment which, with record employment, we are doing.

For those who need a safety net we have invested £10 billion into Universal Credit since 2016 alone, confirmed the benefits freeze will end next year and made changes to make Universal Credit fairer for women and families.

– DWP Spokesperson