Demand for emergency food handouts set to soar during pandemic

(Photo: The Trussell Trust)

The Trussell Trust is preparing for a more than twofold increase in demand for emergency food handouts this winter as the pandemic continues to strain household finances across the UK.

Latest research by the Christian food bank charity predicts a 61% increase in the need for food parcels across its network from October to December, amounting to 846,000 food parcels - equivalent to the distribution of six a minute. 

It reports a huge rise in people turning to one of its food banks for the first time during the pandemic, with families hardest hit by the crisis. 

The research was carried out in conjunction with researchers at Heriot-Watt University, in Edinburgh, with support from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research. 

In its report 'Lockdown, Lifelines and the Long Haul Ahead', the Trussell Trust warns of mass unemployment and an extra 670,000 people falling into destitution by the end of the year. 

Despite the gloomy outlook, the charity said the situation could be turned around if the Government puts support structures in place to protect jobs and incomes. 

With the job retention scheme and other measures coming to an end, it warns that the Government must act now to stop more people falling into hardship. 

It wants the Government to lock in the £20 rise to Universal Credit brought in at the start of the pandemic, and suspend benefit debt deductions. 

The report also recommends a £250m investment in welfare assistance across England to strengthen local safety nets. 

Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said: "Communities throughout the country have shown enormous resilience in helping more people than ever before. But food banks and other community charities cannot continue to pick up the pieces. None of us should need a charity's help to put food on the table.

"Our research finds that Covid-19 has led to tens of thousands of new people needing to use a food bank for the first time. This is not right. If we don't take action now, there will be further catastrophic rises in poverty in the future."

"But it doesn't have to be like this. The pandemic has exposed the power of what happens when we stand together in the face of adversity. We must harness this power to create the changes needed to prevent many more people being locked into poverty this winter.

"With the furlough scheme set to wind down, we must act now to put in place protection for each other.

"The Budget and Comprehensive Spending Review present a pivotal opportunity to put things right. We must take it to help us weather the storm left in the wake of Covid-19."