There were 5,533 of three-day emergency food supplies given out in Enfield & Haringey between April and September 2018, according to new mid-year figures released this week by the Trussell Trust. 1,884 of these were provided to children. In response, local London Assembly Member, Joanne McCartney AM, has renewed her calls “to slam the brakes on the shambolic rollout of Universal Credit” and for the Government to “stick to their pledge and put an end to austerity”.
According to the same figures, food bank usage has also surged by 23% across the capital, with 72,239 emergency food supplies being handed out to Londoners, and 25,434 going to children.
The Trussell Trust have attributed the increase in food bank referrals to low incomes and benefit levels being insufficient to keep up with basic living costs. The charity has also cited Universal Credit payment delays as another significant driver of food poverty.
Universal Credit began to be rolled out for new claimants in Enfield in November 2017 and Haringey in October 2018.
In August, the Mayor of London called for the Government to pause the rollout of Universal Credit to ensure problems with late payments and other longstanding issues with the benefits system can be fully resolved. This call received backing from Ms McCartney.
The release of the data coincides with the launch of a two-week investigation by the United Nations into the rising levels of poverty in the UK.
Local London Assembly Member, Joanne McCartney AM said:
“It is alarming to see such a significant increase in the number of families and children being forced to depend upon emergency food supplies. The fact that food banks are becoming normalised in our society should seriously concern us all.
“Food poverty is a complex issue, but as the Trussell Trust have identified, there are certain key drivers behind it and these must be addressed without delay.
“These shocking figures should send a powerful message to the Government that they need to urgently reverse the damage done by austerity, lift people out of low pay and slam the brakes on the rollout of Universal Credit”.