Food aid charities have identified the emergence of “recently starved people” in Britain – groups of previously well-employed and comfortable income people who have been forced to use food banks and claim welfare benefits for the first time during the pandemic.
That Feed the British The network says its members provide food support for an influx of new middle-income families. Usually with mortgages, cars, and often self-employed or business owners, they have been plunged into crisis by Covid-related job losses and gaps in the social security system.
“We are now seeing families in food banks that were able to pay their bills before the pandemic and are still comfortable enough to have food on the table. For the first time in years, it’s not happening anymore, ”said the charity’s national director, Andrew Forsey.
Before Covid-19, research shows that the majority of people who use food banks are destitute and penniless. The demographics of users that have widened in recent months, however, are seen as an indicator of how the pandemic has been pushing the cost of living crisis increase the scale of income.
Feeding Britain asked the ministers to commit to safeguarding Covid top-up £ 20 per week for universal credits and tax credits, and for extending them to the more than 1 million people with inheritance benefits that were excluded from last April’s one-year hike. It urges lawmakers to hold a debate and vote on this issue in the next few weeks.
Ed Hodson of Coventry Citizens Advice described the newly hungry as “a multi-faceted group, previously unconcerned with putting food on the table.” They are usually younger people “who are full-time middle income earners and who are property owners, mortgage payers or private renters”.
The Black Country food bank in Dudley said the new group of people arriving for help during a pandemic had usually never used a food bank before. “They are used to a certain lifestyle – spending more, credit cards, car financing, etc., and always succeed.”
The new hunger phenomenon comes when food charity network Feeding Britain reports an overall “staggering” increase in the volume of food aid it has provided between March and September, a trend they anticipate will pick up this fall when the new lockdown begins. They include:
Bonny Downs Public association in East Ham, London, which reported long queues formed outside its food bank an hour before opening time. They distributed food parcels to 4,000 people between April and June, compared to 622 in the first three months of this year.
Beaumont Leys food bank in Leicester, which went from providing food to 40 families before the pandemic to 500 per week since March. Likewise with NewStarts Food bank in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, said demand had increased over the same period by 700%.
Dartmoor Community Kitchen Center in Devon, which says only 20 of the 130 people it has helped since the previous March needed charity food aid. “Mostly [this was among] people go without food to pay rent, bills, and debts… [or] one of the spouses loses their job, which results in a loss of normal income levels. “
Black Country Food bank said it has spoken to many people who are shy about using the food bank. “Phrases like ‘this is a last resort’, ‘I don’t know what else to do’, ‘I haven’t eaten in the last few days’, ‘My kids are hungry and I don’t know what to do’ have become common phrases we hear every time. day. “
Jen Coleman of Black Country said: “A £ 20 increase [in universal credit] it does not mean that those who are poor suddenly get better, it means they can survive. Attracting this increase will now plunge people in poverty back into a much bleaker place ”.
Many food bank users already vulnerable before Covid, with low income and health conditions and disabilities, Feeding Britain found. They have been hit by soaring food and energy prices, increasing social isolation, and problems with the benefit system. Migrants who are not entitled to welfare benefits have also been hit hard.
But the emergence of starving people in recent months also points to it gaps in the safety net for self-employed persons who are not yet eligible for government welfare support, and those who receive subsistence-level universal credit payments not enough to meet important living expenses.
Sabine Goodwin, coordinator Independent Food Assistance Network, many of its 400 members are part of the Feeding Britain network, said: “Nobody needs to rely on emergency food packages to survive and the ever-increasing dependence on food aid charities to take part while social security continues to fail must be challenged. “
Feeding Britain is an anti-hunger charity founded with cross-party support by former lawmaker Frank Field in 2016. Its president is Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. It has helped pioneer holiday hunger schemes as well as other food poverty initiatives such as social supermarket.
A government spokesman said: “We are completely committed to supporting people today. We have implemented a comprehensive plan to protect income and community support and create jobs in every region and country of the UK, with more than £ 200 billion in support since March.
“Along with raising living wages and ending allowance freezes, we’ve launched £ 30 billion plan for profession, to protect, support and create jobs as we build back better. In addition, we’ve provided £ 9.3 billion of additional welfare support to help those most in need, as well as introduced an income protection scheme, vacation mortgage and additional tenant support, and we are continuing to review these steps. “