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Foodbank use in Cambridge increases by 20% in one year

By Gemma Gardner

A group of volunteers are working at a food bank and are sorting non perishable food items into boxes.
A group of volunteers are working at a food bank and are sorting non perishable food items into boxes.

A charity that runs foodbanks says there has been a 20 per cent increase in demand in Cambridge.

A total of 5,471 food packages, which are designed to last three days, were handed out in Cambridge in 2016-17 compared to 4,552 in 2015-16.

More than 2,100 of them were given to children.

In Cambridgeshire as a whole there was an 11 per cent increase in foodbank use compared to the previous year, The Trussell Trust said. In total across the county, 22,309 food packages were handed out between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017.

The Trussell Trust last week released its ‘early warnings’ report, which said benefit delays and changes remain the biggest cause of referral to a foodbank.

Responding to the report, David McAuley, chief executive of The Trussell Trust, said: “The move to simplify an often complex welfare system is a welcome one but any large reform can have unforeseen consequences.

“Foodbanks see first-hand how changes to the welfare system affect people on the ground, and so can offer an early warning to decision-makers.

“We are sharing our early observations with the Department for Work and Pensions to ensure any adverse side effects Universal Credit can have on people are addressed before full rollout is completed.

“We have been heartened by secretary of state Damian Green’s willingness to engage, his department’s work to pilot improvements, and the recent changes to the Universal Credit taper rate which mean people moving into work will keep more of their earnings.

“We hope our insights can inform efforts to make sure the values on which Universal Credit is built are delivered in practice. To stop UK hunger we must make sure the welfare system really does work for everyone.”

The Trussell Trust supports a network of 428 foodbanks across the UK, making it the largest foodbank network in the country. It was founded in 2004.

It says its foodbanks provided 1,182,954 packages to people in crisis in 2016-17 – a 6.9 per cent increase on the previous year of 1,109,000.

Foodbank distribution centres are located across the city. Everyone who attends must have a valid foodbank voucher.


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