More than 23, 000 emergency food parcels handed out in South Yorkshire
Demand for foodbanks in South Yorkshire is rising sharply with more than 23, 000 emergency packages handed out in the region over the last 12 months.
The number of three-day emergency food supplies given to people in crisis across Sheffield, Doncaster, Rotherham and Barnsley rose by more than 2000 from 2016/17 to 2017/18.
And more than a third of these were handed out to children living on the breadline, according to figures revealed today by the Trussell Trust.
The charity said there has been a significant increase in demand for foodbanks in areas where Universal Credit has been rolled out.
The Government introduced UC as a way of simplifying the system by rolling several different benefits into a single monthly payment.
But the trust said many people are experiencing delays in receiving payments, pushing them into financial difficulty and the use of foodbanks.
Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said: "As a nation we expect no one should be left hungry or destitute – illness, disability, family breakdown or the loss of a job could happen to any of us, and we owe it to each other to make sure sufficient financial support is in place when we need it most.
“It’s hard to break free from hunger if there isn’t enough money coming in to cover the rising cost of absolute essentials like food and housing. For too many people staying above water is a daily struggle. It’s completely unacceptable that anyone is forced to turn to a foodbank as a result.
“Universal Credit is the future of our benefits system. It’s vital we get it right, and ensure levels of payment keep pace with the rising cost of essentials, particularly for groups of people we know are already more likely to need a foodbank - disabled people, people dealing with an illness, families with children and single parents.”
Between April 1 2017 and March 31 2018 there were 23, 813 emergency food parcels handed out in South Yorkshire including 8617 to children.
This was higher than the previous financial year in which there were 21, 713 handed out in total and 7708 to kids.
There are seven foodbanks run by the trust across South Yorkshire.
Burngreave Foodbank in Sheffield is one of the most established having opened in 2012 and a worker said they provide packages containing 'tinned meat, fruit and other goods' to help people to get by in times of hardship.
Rachel Snow, administrator at the centre, said: "We saw a rise in use in the first few years but it has levelled off in the last couple of years.
"We see a lot of people on low incomes and those who have just started receiving new benefits experiencing delays in receiving their first payment.
"We rely on donations from the public and it is thanks to their generosity that we can help these people."
Across Yorkshire and the Humber 77, 411 food parcels were given out which was a 12 per cent increase on the previous year. 27, 524 of these went to children.
During the same period, the trust distributed 1, 332, 952 food supplies across the UK - a 13 per cent increase on the previous year and 484,026 of these went to children.
The most common reasons for referrals to foodbanks were 'benefit delays' (27 per cent) and 'low income' (25 per cent).
A government spokesman said ministers "remain determined to ensure that people joining universal credit don’t face hardship."
Late last year the Government announced 'significant improvements' to the system.