Food poverty “a national scandal” says Ruth Cadbury as Universal Credit is cut

Image above: Ruth Cadbury at a local food bank

Ruth Cadbury, MP for Brentford & Isleworth, has been visiting local food distribution centres and foodbanks in recent weeks following the decision by the government to cut Universal Credit by £1,000 a year.

People who are on a very low income or out of work are eligible for the benefit, which was increased by £20 a week to help people during the pandemic. Payments were reduced back down from £79 a week to their pre-Covid level of £59 on 6 October – a drop of 25%.

Over 30,000 claimants were receiving Universal Credit in the London Borough of Hounslow in August 2021 and Ruth says this will hit them hard.

She talked to volunteers at Hounslow Community Foodbox in Brentford and Holy Trinity Church in Hounslow, where they have an informal food distribution three times a week. The Brentford foodbank has been supporting nearly 13,000 people during the pandemic with food parcels and other essential items. Referrals to the Foodbox have increased by 400% over the past 18 months.

“I’m so proud that over the last 18 months so many people and local businesses have pulled together to offer support or donations.

“It is a national scandal that food poverty continues to impact so many families across the country. In the last five years alone referrals to national food banks such as the Trussell Trust have increased by over 100%.

“Rather than tackling food poverty the Government have only made this crisis worse by cutting £1,000 from Universal Credit, which thousands of people locally, many of whom are in work, claim in order to buy food for their families, or pay the bills. Along with soaring energy prices and a national insurance tax hike the Government is making life worse for so many families across the country.’’

It was widely reported today that Chancellor Rishi Sunak intends to put the national living wage up to £9.50 an hour from April 2022. Currently it’s £8.91.

The increase “ensures we’re making work pay and keeps us on track to meet our target to end low pay by the end of this parliament”, said the Chancellor.

Labour’s Bridget Phillipson, the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said:

“Much of it will be swallowed up by the government’s tax rises, universal credit cuts and failure to get a grip on energy bills.”

Findn out more about Hounslow Community Food Box here: hounslowfoodbox.org.uk

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