New figures from the Trussell Trust show that the number of emergency food parcels their network has given to people in the past year has increased by 19% increase on the previous year.
Around half of the people are resorting to foodbanks because of Universal Credit (UC) delays.
1,583,668 three-day emergency food supplies were distributed in the year to March 2019, almost a fifth more than the previous year. Over half a million of these (577,618) went to children, fuelling concerns about rising child poverty.
Last month the number of youngsters living in absolute poverty had increased by 200,000 in a year – to a total of 3.7 million.
Emma Revie, chief executive of the charity, said: “Our benefits system is supposed to protect us all from being swept into poverty. Universal credit should be part of the solution but currently the five-week wait is leaving many without enough money to cover the basics.”
Responding to the data, Ayaz Manji, Senior Policy and Campaigns Officer at Mind said: “It’s appalling to see the huge increase in people depending on food parcels because they can’t afford to pay for essentials themselves. Every year 300,000 people fall out of work as a result of a mental health problem and many will need support from the benefits system to help stay afloat. Our social security system should be helping people live independently and keeping people out of poverty.
“The Government must involve others including charities and people who need financial support to improve our benefits system, making sure it works for everyone who needs financial security, including those of us experiencing mental health problems.
“We urgently need to see the Government fix the problems with Universal Credit. That includes making sure that no-one is left without income while waiting for their first payment, or when they move from other benefits onto Universal Credit.”