We've written to the PM asking for immediate action | The Welcome Centre

8th of April 2022

Dear Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer

The Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) represents food aid providers operating across the UK including over 550 independent food banks. We are writing to urge you to take immediate action to reduce the rapidly rising levels of poverty, destitution, and hunger in our communities.

We are deeply concerned about the scale of suffering that we are already witnessing as well as our capacity to prevent people from going hungry in the weeks and months to come. An emergency supply of food cannot resolve someone’s financial crisis and will only act as a temporary sticking plaster. Measures must be urgently introduced to decisively increase people’s incomes through the social security system, emergency cash first support and wage increases combined with job security.

The reasons behind rising food bank use during the decade before the pandemic started are well-documented - these include lengthy Universal Credit waiting times, social security payment levels being insufficient to meet living costs, the benefit cap, the two-child limit, sanctions, inadequate wages, and No Recourse to Public Funds status. Since October 2021, the cut to Universal Credit, the end of the furlough scheme, as well as the start of the cost-of-living crisis have led to unrelenting increases in demand for emergency food support.

By now, people are faced with yet more pressures and impossible choices as energy prices spiral out of control alongside hikes in the price of food and other essentials. People relying on social security payments are seeing a real-terms cut to their income due to inflation rising well above benefit levels. Over 200,000 disabled households are due to see their Warm Home Discount removed. Furthermore, the increase in National Insurance contributions will impact many low-income households.

Food bank and wider food insecurity data had already reached record levels before the huge increases we saw in 2020. The Department for Work and Pensions’ Family Resources Survey (FRS) found that in the year before the onset of Covid-19, 43% of UK households on Universal Credit were food insecure. Thanks to the £20 weekly increase to Universal Credit, there was a 16% reduction in severe and moderate food insecurity levels for those households relying on this benefit as demonstrated by FRS data released last week. Yet, the £20 uplift was removed in October 2021. Recent Food Standards Agency data show that 4% of people in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland used a food bank in the 12 months up to June 2021 while 15% of people went hungry or reduced their food intake due to lack of income.

The devastating long-term impact of poverty and food insecurity is well-documented. Cutting back our threadbare social security system further and allowing low wages and insecure work to become the norm will inevitably lead to increasing health inequalities at a huge cost to our society. The impact of poverty and food insecurity on people’s physical and mental health entails enormous human cost, strains public finances through the NHS and other support, and further institutionalises an unsustainable charitable food aid system.

£500 million added to the Household Support Fund (HSF) cannot possibly begin to fill the gap left by an inadequate social security safety net. This funding is a drop in the ocean in terms of the scale of need we are seeing. What’s more, the HSF is discretionary and not necessarily distributed as cash first support meaning people must often use vouchers or even food banks to access any help at all.

It’s essential that measures are urgently introduced that will ensure cash first, income-based solutions to growing poverty and food insecurity:

  • benefits must be uprated by at least 8% in line with inflation
  • the 5-week wait for Universal Credit, benefit cap, two-child limit, sanctions system,and No Recourse to Public Funds status must be removed
  • wages should match the cost of living and job security must be ensured
  • crisis payments in the form of cash must be available, easily accessible, and well-promoted in every local authority in the UK 

It is the Government’s responsibility to ensure that everybody in our society can afford food and other essentials. It is not for volunteers to plug the gaps left by a broken social security system and poorly paid jobs. Over the past 12 years, our members have worked tirelessly in often extremely challenging circumstances to support hundreds of thousands of people in communities across the UK. However, there is a limit to food banks’ capacity to support the numbers of people seeking their help. Food bank teams are often over-stretched and exhausted and could well be unable to continue to pick up the pieces. Volunteers cannot be expected to cope both physically and mentally with such relentless demand. What’s more, people who used to donate to food banks are now needing to access help themselves. Our members are struggling to find the resources to provide adequate food parcels as the scale of demand and food and energy price increases impact on the services they run.

Charitable food aid has been an inadequate and unsustainable stop-gap measure to growing poverty in the UK for 12 years. We urge you to immediately address the root causes of the poverty driving the need for our services. Food banks are reaching breaking point.
We very much look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Sabine Goodwin on behalf of the Independent Food Aid Network including the member organisations listed below:

Trinity Foodbank Radcliffe, Bury

Micah Liverpool, Liverpool

The King's Storehouse, Denbighshire

West Dunbartonshire Community Foodshare, West Dunbartonshire

Machars Churches Basics Food Bank, Dumfries and Galloway

Pembrokeshire Action To Combat Hardship, Pembrokeshire

Craven Vale Food Bank, Brighton and Hove

Lambeth Larder Community Food Resource CIC, Lambeth

Action For Refugees In Lewisham (AFRIL), Lewisham

Dads' House, Kensington and Chelsea

Community Essentials CIC, Solihull

Croftfoot Church Pantry, Glasgow

Southampton City Mission, Southampton

Jedburgh Foodbank, Scottish Borders

Dartmoor Community Kitchen, Teinbridge

Hambleton Foodshare, Hambleton

Moray Food Plus, Moray

Independence Initiative Limited, Sefton

The River Manchester, Manchester City

Friends of the Homeless in Fareham and Gosport, Fareham and Gosport

Kingsbridge Food Bank, South Hams

Food in Community, South Hams

Earlsfield Foodbank, Wandsworth

Pontardawe PANTRY Foodbank, Neath Port Talbot

North Paddington Food Bank, Westminster

Lammermuir Larder, East Lothian

The Glory of Shaddai, Southwark

Legendary Community Club, Lewisham

Burton HOPE, East Staffordshire

Kintyre Food Bank, Argyll and Bute

Sufra NW London, Brent

Northampton Hope Centre, West Northamptonshire

Central and West Integration Network, Glasgow

Stow Park Community Centre, Newport

The Worthing Food Foundation, Adur and Worthing

Braes Storehouse Food Bank, Falkirk

Rumi's Cave, Brent

Albrighton Food Bank, Shropshire

Heart of Braehead, Stirling

N&B Healthy Living Network, Nuneaton and Bedworth

Eggcup, Lancaster

Feeding Gainsborough, West Lindsey

Instant Neighbour, Aberdeen

STEP (South Tyrone Empowerment Programme), Mid Ulster

South Norwood Community Kitchen, Croydon

Govan Community Project, Glasgow

Spring Community Hub, Southwark

Lampeter Food Bank, Ceredigion

St Paul's Centre, Cheshire East

Olive Branch Aid, Lancaster

Ventnor Community Foodbank, Isle of Wight

The Hereford Food Bank, Herefordshire

PBP Foodbank (CETMA), Camarthenshire

Daventry Food Bank, West Northamptonshire

Independence Initiative Limited, Sefton

Leominster Food Bank, Herefordshire

Fair Frome, Mendip

Kate's Kitchen, East Ayrshire

Asylum Link Merseyside, Liverpool

Kirkcaldy Foodbank, Fife

Carpenters Café, Newham

Darkwood Crew - Helping Ferguslie Flourish, Renfrewshire

Ashton Pantry, Wigan

EATS Rosyth, Fife

The Pantry at Tintagel Social Hall, Cornwall

Newmarket Open Door, West Suffolk

Carlisle Foodbank, Carlisle

Lifeshare, Manchester City

Granville Community Kitchen, Brent

Preen Community Interest Company, Central Bedfordshire

One Can Trust Food Bank, Buckinghamshire

The Welcome Centre, Huddersfield

Nailsea Community Group, North Somerset

The Life House, Birmingham City

Readifood, Reading

Bishops Stortford Food Bank

Living Well Bromley, Bromley

The Storehouse Foodbank Congleton, Cheshire East

Sandbach Food Bank, Cheshire East

Broke Not Broken, Perth and Kinross

We Care Community Hub, Lewisham

Come Out Of Hiding The Lighthouse Network CIC, Lewisham

Selby Food Hub, Haringey

Washington Community Food Project, Sunderland

Pontarddulais Area Food Bank, Swansea

The Vineyard Care Centre @The Vineyard Church, St Albans

Black Country Foodbank, Dudley, Walsall, Sandwell

Diamond Hampers CIC, Huntingdonshire

Hemsworth Food Pantry - Food Bank, Wakefield

The Zink Project, High Peak

CMFFA Foodbank, Milton Keynes

Craft In Mind CIC, Warrington

The SPACE - Supporting People And Community Empowerment, Kensington and Chelsea

Touch of Love Outreach, Aberdeen

NewStarts, Bromsgrove

Rhayader and District Community Support, Powys

Hope Church Hounslow Foodbank, Hounslow

The Gate Charity, Clackamannanshire

St Aidan's FoodShare

Axminster Food Bank, East Devon

Eyemouth and East Berwickshire Foodbank, Scottish Borders

Jubilee Storehouse, Ceredigion

Lancashire First, Burnley

Canaan Trust, Erewash

St Laurences Larder and Open Kitchen, Brent

Dunbar FoodShare, East Lothian

Wyre Forest Food Bank, Wyre Forest

The People's Pantry, Glasgow

Storehouse Foodbank, Babergh

Sharing Life Trust, Buckinghamshire

Clydesdale Food Bank, South Lanarkshire

Blackpool Food Bank, Blackpool

Restore Northampton, West Northamptonshire

Shoreline Church Food Bank, Sefton

Wycombe Food Hub, Buckinghamshire

Hope for Belper, Amber Valley

Harvesters Soup Kitchen, Hackney

Brackley Foodbank, West Northamptonshire

The Raft Foundation, Rossendale

Sutton Coldfield Baptist Church Foodbank, Birmingham

Central and West Integration Network, Glasgow

Ystradgynlais Foodbank, Powys

Telford Crisis Support, Telford and Wrekin

Wells Vineyard Church Foodbank, Mendip

Maidenhead FoodShare, Windsor and Maidenhead

Liberty Food Bank, Croydon

Bute Oasis Food Bank, Argyll and Bute

Holbeach Community Larder, South Holland

Duns Food Bank, Scottish Borders

Hive Hope Food Bank, Gravesham

Pan Together, Isle of Wight

We are one of 550 organisations across the UK that have signed the Independent Food Aid Network's letter to Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak. We have warned we could soon hit “breaking point” amid soaring UK poverty.

You can read further coverage here 

IFAN's website

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The Welcome Centre (Huddersfield) is registered in England and Wales under charity number 1151282. We are based at 15 Lord Street, Huddersfield HD1 1QB. We use cookies to improve your experience using this website.
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