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Fall in UK living standards is changing food bank habits

PUBLISHED: 16:47 29 November 2017 | UPDATED: 16:50 29 November 2017

Picture: David Jones/PA Wire

Picture: David Jones/PA Wire

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Figures from the mid-Norfolk food bank show that the number of people in need of support during the first half of 2017 
has not changed significantly since the same period the year before, however the reasons are evolving.

Mid Norfolk Foodbank manager Dave Pearson. Picture: Ian Burt Mid Norfolk Foodbank manager Dave Pearson. Picture: Ian Burt

The latest data from the food bank operated by the Trussell Trust, shows that there has been a 10pc increase in people applying for food support due to low earnings.

Dave Pearson, who manages the food bank, said: “These figures indicate that more people are in work but are struggling to earn enough to pay all the bills and feed themselves and their families.

“These are normal people who have jobs but may face a bill and are not getting enough coming into the household to pay for it.”

The change is consistent with a 2017 report by the British living standards think-tank, Resolution Foundation, which found that earnings and working-age benefits growth has not risen in line with inflation.

The report goes on to say that income growth has slowed substantially in 2016-17 and lower income households have particularly weakened, despite the introduction of the National Living Wage and a fall in the number of workless households.

After the autumn budget was revealed on November 22, the think-tank warned that Britain is on course for the longest period of decline since records began in the 1950s.

One positive change for mid-Norfolk was a 23pc reduction in the number of people using the food bank due to problems with the benefits system.

For the first six months of last year 61pc of food bank users were there due to problems with the benefits system, such as hold-ups linked to administrative delays or sanctions.

However, in the first six months of 2017 the number of people struggling due to benefits was reduced to 38pc.

Mr Pearson said he expects this number will go up again when the government’s controversial single payment system, known as universal credit, rolls out across Norfolk in 2018.

He said: “At the moment it is young people, first time claimants, who are put on universal credit and people whose circumstances have changed but it has not rolled out yet. Some people who have been put on it are already facing problems so on the basis of law of averages, we can expect to see an increase when it does.”

To support people who are struggling this Christmas the Trussell Trust will have food bank collection points in Tesco Metro, Extra and Superstores all over the country, from November 30 until December 2.

Volunteers will be on hand to help and answer any questions and they can supply shoppers with a shopping list detailing the items their local foodbank needs of most.

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