‘Alarming’ increase in demand for food bank help

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THE number of hard-pressed people seeking help from food banks has rocketed 78 per cent the last six months, the charity Citizens Advice has said.

The figure represents the percentage of Britons who have made enquiries of food banks, which supply food for free to the extremely needy.

The nation’s worst affected region was the West Midlands, with 779 enquiries in the last three months alone – and a six-month rise of 142 per cent.

The new figures show a rise in enquiries about food banks in Citizens Advice bureaux in almost every region of the country.

The national charity’s chief executive calls the spike in requests for information about emergency food supplies “alarming” and has warned that “a perfect storm
of pressures” is increasing demand.

A YouGov survey commissioned by Citizens Advice shows that over half of those on low incomes have had to resort to savings accounts in the past six months in order to meet living costs.

And 37 per cent of respondents on low incomes report that they have no savings to turn to in an emergency, meaning many have no safety net when they run out of money.

The charity has warned that its bureaux are beginning to see people in employment seek emergency food supplies before they get paid, despite positive unemployment figures earlier this week.

Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: “Food banks have no place in modern Britain.

“Millions of families are facing a perfect storm of pressures on their budgets.

“The combined impact of welfare upheaval, cuts to public spending, low wages and the high cost of living are putting unbearable pressure on many households, forcing them to seek emergency help putting food on the table.

“The alarming rise in food bank enquiries in the past six months shows that despite good news about falling unemployment, millions are still facing hard times.”

The new figures are based on enquiries made at Citizens Advice centres in England and Wales from February 2013 to the end of June 2013