Budget plea as record number use foodbank - The Worcester Observer

Budget plea as record number use foodbank

Worcester Editorial 3rd Mar, 2021   0

FOODBANK bosses made a last-ditch plea for the Chancellor to retain a vital benefit boost after they revealed another rise in the number of users in January.

Speaking ahead of the Budget this afternoon (Wednesday), Worcester Foodbank bosses claimed any removal of the Universal Credit uplift by Chancellor Rishi Sunak would have ‘devastating’ consequences for hundreds of struggling families in Worcester.

The chancellor is under pressure to increase benefit payments to more than two million vulnerable people who missed out on last year’s £20 per week boost to Universal Credit.

A new report has found additional costs created by the pandemic have left significant numbers of disabled people unable to pay for rent, food and heating because the legacy benefits they receive, such as ESA and Jobseeker’s Allowance, were not included in the uplift.

The £20 increase to Universal Credit, introduced as part of the government’s COVID-19 support package last year, is currently due to expire at the end of April

Foodbank chiefs have echoed calls from a wide number of organisations for ministers to keep the lifeline for families as they continue to weather the economic storm.

It comes after foodbank reported its busiest ever January with volunteers at the Lowesmoor centre feeding more than 920 people – up a third on the same month last year.

Grahame Lucas, foodbank manager, said: “Many families are walking a tightrope at the moment and removing the £20 uplift would tip the balance – it has to remain in place at least for the next year.”

“Foodbank will do everything it can to help people get back on their feet but ultimately we need Government to lead the way by ensuring everyone has an income that doesn’t force people to choose between heating or eating.”

Almost 400 children were fed by foodbank during January 2021 – a rise of 57 per cent – as more families were forced to rely on emergency food in the face of rising unemployment or other loss of income.

Visit www.worcester.foodbank.org.uk for a list of items currently needed by the Lowesmoor centre.

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