UK

Food Bank Inquiries Rocket As More Desperate People Look For Help

18/08/2013 16:39 BST | Updated 18/08/2013 16:53 BST
PA

There has been an "alarming" rise in the number of desperate people turning to help from foodbanks, a charity has said.

Citizens Advice said inquiries had rocketed by 78% in the past six months - and said it was worried about the impact of more government benefit reforms.

Foodbanks, which supply meals for the most needy people, have become a political battleground in recent months, with David Cameron challenged on whether he had visited one.

Citizens Advice said 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%.

Its chief executive called the spike in requests for information about emergency food supplies "alarming" and has warned that "a perfect storm of pressures" is increasing demand.

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

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% 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: "Foodbanks 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."

Guy said she was particularly concerns about the switch to monthly benefit payments under Iain Duncan Smith's universal credit reforms.

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.