It has been some time in coming but eventually the Conservative Party has accepted that there is a link between the roll-out of Universal Credit and the increase usage of food banks, by those in desperate need of basic food and living supplies.
Amber Rudd accepted that huge increase in food bank usage has, in some part, been caused by UC. Until today senior Tories have flatly denied that this was the case.
The number of emergency food parcels handed out by the Trussell Trust charity has soared from 61,000 in 2010/11 to 1.3million last year.
The PM in 2017 batted aside questions about nurses seeking assistance from food banks, saying: “There are many complex reasons why people go to foodbanks.”
Now Rudd has said: “It is absolutely clear that there were challenges with the initial rollout of Universal Credit .
“And the main issue that led to an increase in food bank use could have been the fact that people had difficulty accessing their money early enough.
“We have made changes to accessing Universal Credit so that people can have advances, so that there is a legacy run-on after two weeks, of housing benefit, and we believe that will help with food insecurity.”
Rudd continued: “I have acknowledged the fact that people had difficulty accessing the money on time as one of the causes for the growth in food banks.
“But we have tried to address that and one of the principal ways of doing that is ensuring every applicant can have advance payment on the day that they apply.”
Frank Field said: “At last, we have a secretary of state who is willing to have a much more open debate on the link that exists between universal credit and the need for food banks.”
“Most importantly for claimants, this debate needs to result in action which eliminates the lengthy wait for benefits to be paid.”