Massive increase in food bank usage during pandemic underscores necessity for welfare reform
- Thursday 12 November 2020
Commenting on figures released today (Thursday 12 November) by the Trussell Trust charity showing demand at its food banks increased by 47 per cent between April and September, Unite assistant general secretary responsible for the union's army of community activists, Steve Turner, said:
“Even before the pandemic, food bank usage under the Tories’ merciless attacks on the social safety net had rocketed. For years, Unite Community activists across the UK have been witness to desperate families being punished by a welfare system that left them unable to feed their children or pay for even the most basic of necessities.
“The government, almost exclusively made up of politicians lucky enough to have never gone through the indignities of claiming benefits, have been content to ignore the spiralling child poverty and profound social deprivation their policies have unleashed. It shames our country that in 21st Century Britain, charities and food banks are having to step in because our government has washed its hands of responsibility for those most in need of help.
“The figures released today by the Trussell Trust, showing that food bank usage has increased by 47 per cent between April and September, are a stark indicator of how much worse things have become during the pandemic. The system wasn’t fit for purpose before Covid-19 and has completely failed as a defence against the terrible toll the virus has enacted on those who can least afford it. If this wasn’t the case, Boris Johnson would not have needed to extend free school meals during the holidays until Christmas 2021.
“The coronavirus has thrown countless workers onto the mercies of Universal Credit and other benefits and thousands more will follow before the crisis is over. In its current form, the welfare system is a trap that needlessly perpetuates poverty and hopelessness. The system, and the punitive approach it is based on, are in need of comprehensive reform. As a priority and at the very least, ministers must end the five weeks wait for Universal Credit payments.
“As well as continuing to pressure the government to fix the country’s broken social security system, this winter Unite is also running a Christmas appeal to help struggling families by raising funds and donations for local food banks and other grassroots charities.”
Notes to editors:
For media enquires ONLY contact Unite communications officer Ryan Fletcher on 07849 090215.
Email: [email protected]
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.