The call was made after it emerged that the number of people turning to food banks to satisfy their hunger has tripled year-on-year with the Trussell trust charity saying it has distributed food parcels to 355,000 people in the period between April and September. This, according to the charity, is more than the whole number distributed during the last year in total.
The charity said the people are increasingly in need of food banks because low pay, welfare reform and benefit delays have resulted in serious hardship among the nations.
“The level of food poverty in the UK is not acceptable. It’s scandalous and it is causing deep distress to thousands of people. The time has come for an official and in-depth inquiry into the causes of food poverty and the consequent rise in the usage of food banks,” said Chris Mould, the executive chairman of the trust.
International aid charity Oxfam linked the spike in food bank use to widening gaps in the UK’s social safety net and endorsed the call for an inquiry.
“This escalation in people using food banks shows we are now facing the shocking reality of destitution, hardship and hunger on a large scale in the UK”, said Oxfam’s chief executive, Mark Goldring.
According to figures published by the Trussell changes to benefits triggered hunger to one in five people – 65,177 people – who checked in food banks in the first half of this year, as compared with 14,897 (14%) during the same period last year. Delays in benefits’ payment has also caused 117,442 people (35%) to turn to food banks between April and the end of September, compared with 35,597 (33%) in the same period in 2012-13.
The head of the Trussell charity warned against the rise in costs of living and stagnant wages as well as the spike in energy prices, which he said would force more people to choose between heating and eating this winter.
“We’re talking about mums not eating for days because they’ve been sanctioned for seemingly illogical reasons or people leaving hospital after a major operation to find that their benefits have been stopped or delayed.”