One in five people being referred to food banks are from a working household, research from the Trussell Trust charity has found.
Over the past six months, 320,000 people were forced to visit one of the food bank network’s centres for the first time – a 40% increase compared to 2021.
In the same period, the trust gave out 1.3 million parcels, a third more than the same period last year.
Earlier this week, one in four families were due to receive a £324 payment from the government to help with the rising cost of living, with work and pensions secretary Mel Stride saying the department “understands that people are struggling”.
However the Trussell Trust has described its food banks as being at “breaking point” as they are expected to provide more than 7,000 emergency food parcels a day over the next six months.
Inflation in the year to September 2022 rose by 10.1%, and economists believe the cost of living is increasing at its fastest rate in 40 years. Yesterday retail reserch firm Kanatr said that food price inflation has hit a record 14.7%, adding around £682 to a typical household’s annual grocery bill.
Emma Revie, chief executive, said the government must act to support low-income households in its fiscal statement next week.
“Over the last few years, the government has acted to protect people who are struggling, and this action has made a difference,” she said.
Cost of living
“They must now act again: with swift support now to help people through the winter, and with vision for the longer-term to ensure that social security is always enough to weather challenging times.
“We urge the UK government to realise their commitment of supporting people on the lowest income with a broad package of support. As well as ensuring that benefits rise with inflation as soon as possible, this must go further to close the gap between price rises and incomes over the winter.”
The Trussell Trust said the types of workers being referred to food banks included trainee nurses, teaching assistants, factory workers, retail employees and delivery drivers.
Josie Barlow, manager at the Bradford Foodbank, said she had seen a huge increase in people visiting her centre in the past two months, to the point where stock levels have become very low.
“Someone who came to the food bank recently told me that ‘buying milk is a luxury now’. So many people are struggling with bills and food prices. We are fortunate to be able to help people and we work hard to support them in both the short and long term, but we are also facing challenges,” she said.
HR tech company Personio’s research published this week echoes that of the Trussell Trust. It found that 69% of employees are worried about paying for essentials, yet only 40% of employers have introduced measures to support employees with the rising cost of living.
“With a significant number of workers feeling overwhelmed and burnt out, employers must re-engage them by flexing their support and doing all they can to help them. Even modest efforts such as discount schemes, travel loans or salary sacrifice schemes could have a positive impact,” said Pete Cooper, director of people partners and analytics at the company.