What do we spend donations on?

13 Oct

The Trussell Trust is a charity which supports a network of 1,200 food bank centres across the UK to provide emergency support to people as we work together towards a future where everyone has enough food.  

We don’t spend donated money on food to give to people – the vast majority of food provided by food banks in our network is donated generously by members of the public.  

We’re working to end the need for food banks and while it’s not a simple task, it can be done. If we’re to reach a future where everyone can afford essentials, we need to do three things:  

  1. Support food banks to provide the best possible support to people right now  
  1. Tackle the structural issues that lead to people needing food banks in long-term 
  1. Win hearts and minds over to inspire action to create a just society.  

So what does that actually mean in terms of work?  

Supporting food banks to provide the best possible support to people 

There are more than 1,200 food bank centres in our network across the UK, and we support them so they can give the best possible help to people. We work alongside food banks in our network to ensure projects are run to a high standard and provide training, guidance and resources with issues projects face. This includes: 

  • One to one support on the ground through an Area Manager 
  • Access and support for a range of unique cloud-based systems that refer people to food banks and measure how many people are needing food banks 
  • A grants programme which can be used to fund a variety of different things that food banks might struggle to fund otherwise (you can read more about the difference these grants make here in this blog from Colchester Foodbank) 
  • Access to a central support team 
  • Support with sourcing and distributing food stock 
  • A share in nationally negotiated fundraising partnerships with corporates 
  • Best practice sharing across food banks 
  • Support in responding to crises or unexpected situations as they arise  

Tackling the structural issues that lead people to need food banks 

We’re working to end the need for food banks in the future through a range of research, advocacy and campaigning work. We work with academics and researchers to understand who needs food banks and why, so we can then work with policy makers to push for changes that would better protect people from needing a food bank 

Winning hearts and minds over to inspire action to create a just society 

If we want a society that not only thinks it’s wrong people need food banks, but is ready and willing to take action to create a future where food banks aren’t needed, we need to take people on a journey to help them understand what drives people to need food banks and how we can change things. That’s why we’re also working to build a movement of people who care, understand and want to keep the conversation about food bank use in the UK on the agenda so there’s public pressure to address these crucial issues.   

So what money goes where? 

We take our responsibility for any money donated to us very seriously. We spend some money on salaries because to do all of this work we need to be able to pay a team for their expertiseWe’re always carefully weighing decisions about expenditure to ensure what we spend money on is appropriate, while ensuring we have a team that are paid for their skills and experience 

Our financial information is all available online and our most recent annual report is for the year to March 2019. In it you can see 78% of our expenditure went to funding these two areas of work to support the food bank network and push for long-lasting change. 13% was used to run charity shops and other social enterprise projects which you can read more about here, and 10% went towards fundraising costs. 

We don’t think it’s right that anyone needs to use a food bank in the UK. And we know this can change. That’s why we spend donor money on supporting food banks to provide the best possible support to people right now, tackling the structural issues that lead to people needing food banks in long-term, and winning hearts and minds over to ensuring we never let this happen in our country again.  

If you’d like to be part of creating that change, you can find out more here 

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We need Government action to avoid record need for food banks this winter

2 Oct

By Rory Weal, Policy & Public Affairs Manager

We can avoid the prospect of record need for food banks this winter – but only if the Government acts now.

Last week the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, unveiled his ‘Winter Economy Plan’, designed to prepared the economy for the coming economic storm. This mini budget announced a range of measures, including a replacement for the furlough scheme – a new ‘jobs support scheme’ to subsidise the wages of people in work. Clearly, this is needed and welcome. But it begs the question – what about the millions of people who have already lost work or will do so over the coming months?

Food banks in the Trussell Trust network are seeing first-hand the impact the crisis is having on people in this position. Unfortunately, without further action it is set to get worse before it gets better. Last month we published projections which forecast there will be a 61% rise in need for food banks over the winter compared to the same period last year. Based on an initial assessment by Heriot-Watt University, the latest steps announced by the Chancellor are not enough to alter this forecast. This leaves food banks in the Trussell Trust network faced with the huge task of giving out six food parcels every minute over the winter.

This isn’t right. No one should be need to use a food bank. Many of these people are likely to be using a food bank for the first time, and they are also more likely to be facing additional challenges. Our recent survey findings show almost three quarters of those who used a Trussell Trust food bank during the summer reported they or someone they lived with having a mental health problem, up from half before the pandemic. We are all living with the uncertainty of what the future holds, but for those needing to use food banks that burden weighs particularly heavy.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. There is still time for the Government to make the changes necessary to stop people being swept into poverty. We have recently provided a submission to the Treasury on the steps the Government should take to avert hardship now and in the coming months, which you can read in full here. As we face the prospect of a second wave of Covid-19, we need to draw on the determination we saw back in March and April to provide people with the lifelines they need to weather this economic storm. This means ensuring everyone has the money they need for the essentials, so that no one needs to use a food bank.

Our proposals are built on measures already taken by the Government – measures which can be implemented quickly and will make a real difference. Our three proposals are:

  • Protect people’s incomes by locking in the £20 uplift to Universal Credit and extending to legacy benefits. Our recent research shows removing the £20 uplift next spring would lead to a 10% rise in need for food banks. The uplift must be locked in as soon as possible, and extended to legacy benefits such as Employment Support Allowance.
  • Help people hold on to more of their benefits by suspending benefit debt deductions. This was done swiftly for some deductions back in April and needs to be repeated now. This time, Advance Payments must be included in the suspension, as our survey data shows three quarters of people arriving at food banks on Universal Credit are repaying advances to cover the five-week wait.
  • Make local safety nets as strong as possible by investing £250 million in local welfare assistance in England. Local welfare administered by councils can provide a lifeline for those who fall through the gaps in national provision. The Government invested £63 million in this provision in the summer, but the funding is set to end later this month. As we enter a phase of local lockdowns, this flexible provision to provide cash grants and in-kind benefits is needed now more than ever.

We know these measures can be introduced swiftly, as they have been done before. We can still avoid a huge rise in need for food banks this winter – but only if we see fast action from the Government to provide the lifelines we all need.

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Innovation and invention for a different future

29 Sep

Dave Massey, Head of Strategic Intelligence

The problem of poverty is growing here in the UK, and as the Covid-19 pandemic continues more and more people are struggling to afford the essentials. As our statistics show, the number of emergency food parcels distributed by food banks in the Trussell Trust network rose almost 20% last year.

And as the impact of the pandemic began to be felt across the UK in April, need was a shocking 89% higher than the same period in 2019. Our latest research forecasts that this winter food banks in our network will give out six emergency food parcels every minute – a staggering 61% increase on last year.

This isn’t right. It is a huge concern for us and for food banks up and down the country, and should be a huge concern to everyone in the UK.

Food banks work tirelessly to support people in crisis, not only by providing them with emergency food supplies, but also by signposting them to other organisations who can help them work through other issues (for example, by offering debt management support). We will continue to support food banks to do this vital work in the short term, but ultimately this work shouldn’t be needed at all. No one should be forced to use a food bank because they can’t afford the essentials.

That’s why we’re also working to bring about a future in the UK where food banks are no longer needed. This is an ambitious goal, particularly as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to affect us all, but we know that change is possible.

Together, we are powerful and we can drive real change. We are working in partnership with many organisations to create the future we wish to see. Today, we’re excited to be partnering with the IBM IXM Programme at a hackathon focused on food poverty run by University College London. The IXN Programme brings industry and academia together to address the world’s most pressing challenges and offers a rapid route to innovation.

Students will be invited to put forward solutions to improve food bank operations here and now, consider how technoology could unblock the unintended barriers that our ‘digital first’ society places on many people, understand what is happening now and predict what will happen in the future around food bank use, and engage the public in new and innovative ways to help everyone understand the problem of poverty.

To create a UK without the need for food banks will require a combination of creativity, imagination, complete understanding of the whole problem, and technical expertise – as well as innovation and invention. We are excited to see whaht the students come up with!

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Asda’s support helps get new volunteers into food banks

27 Aug

Asda have been helping get new volunteers into food banks during the coronavirus pandemic by supporting the Trussell Trust with a digital volunteer system that connects volunteers to nearby food banks that need their support.

Volunteers are the bedrock of all the things food banks do – without volunteers, food banks wouldn’t be able to collect donations, ensure people who need support can get help, or campaign for long-term change to prevent people needing food banks in the future.

But when coronavirus struck, many food bank volunteers who were over 70 or had a health condition, needed to stay at home in line with government guidance. At exactly the same time, food banks were busier than ever before – with more and more people needing emergency support as the impact of the crisis hit how much money people had for essentials.

Food banks were also making big changes to the way they worked to ensure people could get support safely – for some this meant doing deliveries, and for others it meant making sure social distancing could be followed in their centres. Facing these challenges, food banks needed their volunteer teams.

Asda’s support meant the Trussell Trust could launch a digital volunteer system that connects people who want to volunteer with nearby food banks needing their support.

At Brent Foodbank, this meant not only could they link up with nearby people eager to give their time – but they could also organise who was volunteering and when really quickly and easily through the system, saving valuable hours during a period when the food bank was busier than ever before.

Brent Foodbank Project Manager Claudia Wallace explains the difference it makes:

“It’s been really exciting getting to see the volunteer system up and running.  It’s easy to log in and move around the site.  It’s been great seeing our rota come together and we’re looking forward to getting our recruitment into the system as well. This will be a real time saver!”

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Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation

14 Aug

The Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation has been supporting the Trussell Trust since 2017 and we’re hugely grateful for their long-term support. The foundation has generously been donating funds to support Coventry Foodbank, one of the largest food banks in the UK, for the past four years as well as supporting with nationwide volunteering and contributing to operating costs, and they’re supporting us once again with an additional donation of approximately £40,000 as we face the new challenges and increased level of need created by the coronavirus pandemic.

More and more people are being forced to use a food bank and this simply isn’t right but we know that with the support of partners like Sodexo, together we can create a stronger, more compassionate, and more just society where everyone can afford the essentials.

“So many people have found themselves having to turn to a food bank for emergency food during this time, which is just not right.  We are very grateful for the generous donation from the Stop Hunger Foundation which has helped us to be in a position to support the level of need our food banks have seen recently, which would have overwhelmed us in normal times.  We are so grateful that we have been able to be there for them with the support of partners like Sodexo.” Emma Revie, CEO, Trussell Trust

None of the work we do would be possible without the generosity of our corporate partners. They have helped us achieve a great deal in the last few months, and we’re incredibly grateful that Sodexo is standing alongside us, food banks, and people in financial crisis through an additional donation at this time.

I just wanted to say thank you so much for your assistance in getting me a food parcel. I would like to pass my thanks on to the people who delivered it too. I reached out for help in the morning and by the afternoon I had received my help. How lucky I am to live in this country where food is delivered to those who can’t afford it.” Person helped by our new helpline


“I cannot explain how much the food parcel has helped us or how truly grateful we are to all the staff, volunteers and the donors! You are all a blessing. Thank you.” Person helped at Lewisham Foodbank


“I was really anxious, really scared, worried about what they thought of me, whether I was going to be judged when I walked through the door. But they were so nice, so welcoming, all the volunteers were great, had a cup of tea, a biscuit, and a chat just about any help that I needed. Not many people know that it’s not just about food, it’s about gas, electric, you know, helping you with your finances, they can give you information of where to go, who to talk to and that just lifts a lot of weight off your shoulders- and think OK, actually I am not the only person that is struggling and it’s OK to ask for help”. Lisa Maria – Person referred to a food bank



 “We had a young man come in for the first time. His partner had been taken into hospital and his firm sacked him and he was in the depths of despair. We managed to put him in touch with an agency for a job, and we go him help and he went away with a smile on his face. That makes it really worthwhile.”  Rena – Food Bank Volunteer

Every year, our partnership continues to bring the issues of hunger and poverty to the forefront of people’s minds, driving food donations and support for food banks in local communities nationwide, and encouraging people to join us in fighting injustice and working towards a better future.

The amazing support from Sodexo really does make all the difference; their fundraising and volunteering allow us to support food banks now and work towards a future where they are no longer needed. Together, we know this can change. On behalf of food banks, the Trussell Trust and, most importantly, the hundreds of thousands of people we work to serve, thank you – we look forward to seeing what we can achieve together!


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Asda and Burngreave Foodbank’s volunteer heroes help people get food bank help safely during COVID-19

24 Jul

Asda have been helping people who need food banks during the coronavirus pandemic by supporting the Trussell Trust to develop a digital system that makes sure anyone who needs a food bank, but is unable to leave their home, can still access vital support.

Every food bank in the Trussell Trust network works with a range of local organizations, like a housing association or local Citizens Advice, that refer people for emergency support. These organisations can assess whether someone is in need of a food bank and before the pandemic, they could provide people in-person with a paper voucher for the food bank.

But when coronavirus hit, some people needing support couldn’t leave their homes, and some local organisations which normally give paper vouchers couldn’t physically open safely.

Asda’s support meant food banks could move local organisations that refer to them onto a digital system that didn’t need paper vouchers or an in-person meeting, making it safer for everyone involved, and ensuring people without enough money for food could still access emergency help.

At Burngreave Foodbank, volunteer superheroes Mark and Trish were unable to do their normal volunteering at the centre, but they volunteered from home and singlehandedly supported every local organisation that normally refers people to the food bank to move onto the digital system.

Their hard-work and dedication in helping all of the organisations who refer people to the food bank understand a whole new system meant local people could still access emergency help from the food bank safely throughout the outbreak.

Rachel Snow, project manager at Burngreave Foodbank explains:

“Since lockdown Mark and Trish haven’t been able to come into the food bank but offered their services working from home. They have single handedly contacted all the agencies that refer to us and supported them with moving over to digital referrals, dealing with phone calls from referrers who were having problems with the system and ensuring a smooth transition for us. 

“I honestly don’t know what I’d have done without their support in this way in the midst of all the chaos of the last few weeks. We moved to delivering all food parcels and using e-referrals only, and it’s mainly been down to their handling the entire e-referral transition for me that has enabled it to go as smoothly as it has.”


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“Eat out to help out” – but what about helping those going hungry at home?

9 Jul

Rory Weal, Policy & Public Affairs Manager

Yesterday the Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled his ‘summer statement’. A number of eye-catching policies were announced to support the economy through what even the most optimistic predictions suggest will be the deepest recession in decades.

Interventions to protect jobs and targeted support for the hardest hit sectors featured prominently, as did measures to boost consumer spending in the form of VAT cuts and a 50% voucher discount for eating out in restatements, cafes and pubs during August.

But this welcome focus on jobs must be matched by a renewed effort to make sure people out of work can afford the essentials.

There was little here for the millions of people already relying on our social security safety net, and the many more who will be forced to turn to it over the coming months.

Recent work by the Social Metrics Commission shows that the largest employment impacts from the current crisis have been felt by those already in the deepest levels of poverty. Food banks have seen this first hand. Across the Trussell Trust network there has been a dramatic rise in the numbers of people pushed to food banks during this crisis – including an 89% rise in food bank use in April compared to the same time last year, and a shocking 107% rise in parcels for children.

People who are currently unable to afford food and other essentials – and those who are going to fall in to this situation as the economic crisis continues to unfold – need an urgent boost to social security so they have enough to stay afloat.

The Chancellor did commit some extra help in the form of £1bn more funding for DWP. This money will be used to fund a doubling of Work Coaches and other forms of support to help people back to work. Extra support is welcome, but risks being undermined by the re-introduction of sanctions and some of the Universal Credit deductions which had been paused – which have quietly returned in recent weeks with much less fanfare. These, combined with the five week wait for the first Universal Credit payment, can combine to push people under just when they most need help and support.

We hope that this new funding can be part of a more flexible approach taken by the DWP to recognise the real challenges people are facing in finding and keeping work in the midst of a devastating recession.

The package of support announced at the start of the crisis, in the form of the Jobs Retention Scheme, increases to Universal Credit, Local Housing Allowance, and the suspension of deductions and sanctions represented a significant strengthening of the safety net. Recent announcements about new funding for local welfare assistance and free school meals in England are also welcome. But this support that has been put in place is temporary and in some cases is already starting to ebb away. Yesterday’s announcement did not contain the much needed commitments to continue, or build on, these measures to help people struggling to cover the cost of essentials.

Our safety net must be able to help any of us who needs support to weather the storm. That is why along with our partners, we are continuing to call for a Coronavirus Emergency Income Support Scheme, to ensure social security acts as the lifeline we know it can be.

Encouraging people to eat out is one thing, but ensuring people have the means to eat at all must come first.

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On the frontline: a day at a food bank during COVID-19

19 Jun

A guest blog from our partners Deloitte 

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK in March, Hannah Ledwold, a manager in our Risk Analytics practice and Alan Velecky, Senior Manager, Consulting, have been on secondment with the Trussell Trust. The Trussell Trust supports a nationwide network of over 1,200 food banks to provide emergency food to people who can’t afford the essentials, while working towards a future where everyone has enough money.

The Trussell Trust’s mission is to end the need for food banks by supporting people to address the root causes of poverty. Unfortunately, the need for food banks’ services is now greater than ever. They have seen an 81% increase in food parcels provided to people since the coronavirus caused lockdowns and job losses across the UK. Our two secondees have stepped in to help.


Alan’s day

Alan is a Deloitte consultant with a background that includes television direction and leadership assessment, development and coaching. Alan is providing operations support and guidance for the Trussell Trust’s leaders to navigate their new landscape. He shares with us a typical day:

Early Morning

I’ve been asked to join a working group, which monitors food banks which are at risk of having to suspend their service. This is usually due to a loss of volunteers who are having to socially isolate or issues with food supply. I’m supporting Danni, who is the director of operations, with actions that follow on from these meetings. For example, I recently put together a Memorandum of Understanding template, which outlines how food banks and local councils should work together when local councils are temporarily running foodbank services. It was particularly helpful to be able to draw on a Deloitte colleague’s expertise with MOUs to deliver this particular task.

Late morning

Two hours of coaching calls with area managers from different parts of the UK. I am providing coaching for all 22 of the Trussell Trust’s area managers, who have been under a lot of stress and have had to make many changes in an extremely short space of time. These include shifting from a face-to-face collection of food parcels to a delivery model, and working with local agencies who refer people to food banks to do this electronically, rather than in person with a paper voucher.

These coaching sessions provide some additional support and give the area managers the space to reflect on how they’ve coped, as well as think about changes they’d like to make in the future.


The COVID-19 situation has caused people to react and change ways of working, which has meant a change in culture too. The charity has asked me to work with its operations managers to think through which aspects of the changes that have occurred they’d like to embed in the culture, and which aspects they’d want to roll back. In the afternoon I have some calls to plan a workshop to get the operation managers’ feedback and ideas, and I also work on a webinar on wellbeing and resilience that I’ve been asked to put together for food bank managers.


A call with the Operations Director Danni to discuss today’s progress and prioritise activities for the rest of the week. The Trussell Trust has been pleased to have someone from Deloitte assist, and Danni has been particularly keen to draw on my background in leadership development to support her Ops teams at various levels. The team here has been so welcoming and friendly, they are lovely people to work with.  Everyone at the charity has a strong sense of purpose and it is nice to be a part of supporting the Trussell Trust’s work.


Hannah’s Day

Hannah is on-site at Brent Foodbank assisting with logistics and management of volunteers. Brent Foodbank has seen a 300% increase in the need for food parcels in the past few weeks, at the same time as losing many volunteers who have to isolate due to their age. She shares with us what it is like to work there:

Early Morning

Arrive at the food bank and set up for the day, including checking stock, the volunteer rota and emails.

A grocery delivery arrives, couriered by drivers who are supporting us by offering volunteers for collection/delivery work. Between us, the driver and I unload a ton and a half (literally not figuratively, the food bank weighs all food in and out) of pasta sauce, tuna, rice pudding, beans, etc. If you are finding this hard to picture, try imagining 3,750 cans of beans!

This might sound like a lot of food, but we will now receive this quantity every week – it’s one of many donations we receive every day that enables us to continue.

Late morning
Volunteers arrive for the day. Today we have three. We could always use more, but have had to limit numbers to make sure we can all keep our distance from each other in the small warehouse. The volunteers are all new since COVID-19 started so are still getting up to speed with how things work. We weigh stock and move it to be shelved in categories.

Time to answer some emails and calls. I explain to different parties about the e-referral system – now that people cannot receive physical vouchers, everything must be done over the phone or email (not easy for those who can’t afford food and therefore may not have access to devices or wifi).

People referred to the food bank wait outside to receive parcels – the food bank is still open to people twice a week. The next two hours or so are spent checking vouchers and creating parcels and assisting those who have not been able to access a voucher. This often means acting as translator on the phone to agencies like Citizens’ Advice for people that don’t speak enough English to explain basic details – name, address, DOB, reason for crisis, etc.

Need for parcels has tripled in the last three weeks and today we receive 59 vouchers ranging from single people up to a family of seven.


Confirm with volunteer drivers for tomorrow’s scheduled deliveries. Re-stock some shelves, plan the tasks for tomorrow’s volunteers and close down the food bank.

Working at the food bank has opened my eyes to the amount of work the Trussell Trust does to support people who can’t afford food in this country. Food banks rely on the support of local communities to provide vital emergency help to people. To donate or learn more, find your nearest food bank here.

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Our nation faces a crucial fork in the road – we must choose the right path 

16 Jun

Garry Lemon, director of policy and external affairs  

Our nation is at a crossroads.

The government has responded to coronavirus with unprecedented measures to support workers, businesses and self-employed people. But the stark reality many of us now face is laid bare in today’s unemployment figures, with hundreds of thousands of people falling off payrolls since March and the largest decreases in the number of self -employed ever recorded.

With the jobs retentions scheme and the self-employed income support scheme set to wind down over the coming months, there is real concern that this is just the start of a tidal wave which will sweep people into poverty and financial hardship.

What decision will we make? We can either choose to build the biggest and best lifeboats to sail people to financial safety – or risk many more people being swept into destitution if we do not invest enough to keep everyone afloat. 

At the Trussell Trust we know how high the stakes are. Food banks across the UK have just reported their busiest month ever. Our volunteers are telling us many people are coming for the first time.  The number of families with children needing emergency food has doubled, compared to this time last year.

This simply isn’t right. But there are things the government can do to protect people from needing a food bank as the economic downturn unfolds. That‘s why we’re working with  a coalition of anti-poverty charities to call for a Coronavirus Emergency Income Support Scheme to ensure we all have enough money coming in to weather the storm.

There are already signs the government is open to making the changes that are needed. 

Our coalition has been calling for a boost to the emergency schemes run by local councils in England, to ensure they can get cash grants into the pockets of people facing financial crisis. When run well, these schemes get money to people quickly and can reduce the likelihood that people will become homeless or need to turn to a food bank.

Last week the Prime Minister announced a new £63 million fund for these schemes in England to help people struggling to afford food and other essentials due to coronavirus.

It is heartening that the government has listened to and acted on the calls of charities and campaigners. We’ll be working with government officials to try and ensure this money is administered properly – read more about how in this blog

But we still have a long way to go to ensure everyone makes it to safety.

We urgently need funding to support the roll out of the rest of the emergency response proposed by our coalition to ensure everyone has enough money in their pockets for essentials during this crisis.

We know that for too many people, benefit payments do not adequately cover the cost of living, with research showing households referred to food banks being left with just £50 per week after housing costs. That was before this surge in unemployment – a surge forecasters say is likely to get worse as our economic downturn takes grip.

That’s why we must:

  • Increase benefits that go to families to help with the costs of raising children
  • Extend the suspension of benefit deductions to include advance payments – the loans offered to cover the five-week wait for a first Universal Credit payment
  • Lift the benefit cap to ensure this support scheme benefits everyone

Our nation faces a crucial fork in the road.

We must choose the right path. The path that builds on the foundations our government has laid and buoys up the many people already struggling to keep their heads above water, as well as people pushed into poverty for the first time.

We’ve already seen what can be done to put support in place for people –  we have the power to do this if we stand together.


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Make this £63 million the lifeline it needs to be

12 Jun

Garry Lemon, Director of Policy:

Last week food banks in the Trussell Trust network provided shocking evidence of the impact of the economic storm whipped up by the Coronavirus pandemic. Over the course of April there was a huge surge in people needing support, with double the number of families needing help compared to same time last year. It was the busiest month ever at food banks.

It is clear from this immediate and ongoing surge in need for charity food parcels that though we all face the same storm, we are not all in the same boat. Despite welcome measures to boost Universal Credit and Housing Benefit, a huge number of people are still unable to stay afloat.

This simply isn’t right, and must be addressed immediately by government. To that end, the Trussell Trust is working with a coalition of anti-poverty charities to call for a Coronavirus Emergency Income Support Scheme to  ensure we all have enough money to weather the storm.

An important element of this proposed emergency response is a boost to the local welfare assistance schemes local councils run in England to keep households afloat in times of financial crisis with cash grants. We’ve outlined best practice for running these schemes because they can make such a difference to people’s lives. When properly run, they  get money to people quickly and can reduce the likelihood that people will become homeless or need to turn to a food bank.

It was heartening then, to hear in PMQs the Prime Minister announce a new £63 million fund for these schemes “to be distributed to local authorities in England to help those who are struggling to afford food and other essentials due to coronavirus”. The government has listened to and acted on this call.

But now this money has been announced, it is absolutely crucial that it is administered properly if these council schemes are to be the lifeline we so desperately need at this time. We will be working with government officials and will be clear the money should:

  • be spent as intended on these schemes, not swallowed up by the growing holes in local authority budgets
  • take the form of cash, rather than food vouchers, so people can buy food and other essentials like gas and electricity like anyone else
  • go to areas in England where there is most need, and ensure  people are able to get support in the one in seven areas which don’t have an existing scheme
  • be accompanied by clear guidance for councils to ensure newly boosted schemes offer a proper joined-up service that tackles the reasons why people don’t have enough money in the long term

Then there is the obvious question about how far £63 million will stretch. We suggested that to bring England in line with other UK nations, which already have comparable schemes in operation, annual cost would be about £250m. This money will be used up quickly, then, and must be topped up after a period of three months just to keep English councils in line with others across the UK.

These are difficult questions in difficult times. Next week the publication of unemployment figures will likely present further evidence of the terrible impact Coronavirus is having on our lives. Much more must be done to ensure support is there to properly anchor us all from poverty and destitution – these schemes are just one part of the temporary response we and our partners will continue to call for.

But it’s also important for us to step back and recognise that getting this funding allocated is a significant step that could make the difference between destitution and staying afloat for thousands of families across England.

Thank you to all our campaigners, food banks, and partners such as the Children’s Society, who made this happen.

No one should be forced to a food bank. When we stand together we can make a real impact – we hope this new money is an important first step in doing just that.

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