• IFAN's letter to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor

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    8th of April 2022


    Dear Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer

     

    The Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) represents food aid providers operating across the UK including over 550 independent food banks. We are writing to urge you to take immediate action to reduce the rapidly rising levels of poverty, destitution, and hunger in our communities.

     

    We are deeply concerned about the scale of suffering that we are already witnessing as well as our capacity to prevent people from going hungry in the weeks and months to come. An emergency supply of food cannot resolve someone’s financial crisis and will only act as a temporary sticking plaster. Measures must be urgently introduced to decisively increase people’s incomes through the social security system, emergency cash first support and wage increases combined with job security.

     

    The reasons behind rising food bank use during the decade before the pandemic started are well-documented - these include lengthy Universal Credit waiting times, social security payment levels being insufficient to meet living costs, the benefit cap, the two-child limit, sanctions, inadequate wages, and No Recourse to Public Funds status. Since October 2021, the cut to Universal Credit, the end of the furlough scheme, as well as the start of the cost-of-living crisis have led to unrelenting increases in demand for emergency food support.

    By now, people are faced with yet more pressures and impossible choices as energy prices spiral out of control alongside hikes in the price of food and other essentials. People relying on social security payments are seeing a real-terms cut to their income due to inflation rising well above benefit levels. Over 200,000 disabled households are due to see their Warm Home Discount removed. Furthermore, the increase to National Insurance contributions will impact many low-income households.

     

    Food bank and wider food insecurity data had already reached record levels before the huge increases we saw in 2020. The Department for Work and Pensions’ Family Resources Survey (FRS) found that in the year before the onset of Covid-19, 43% of UK households on Universal Credit were food insecure. Thanks to the £20 weekly increase to Universal Credit, there was a 16% reduction in severe and moderate food insecurity levels for those households relying on this benefit as demonstrated by FRS data released last week. Yet, the £20 uplift was removed in October 2021. Recent Food Standards Agency data show that 4% of people in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland used a food bank in the 12 months up to June 2021 while 15% of people went hungry or reduced their food intake due to lack of income.

     

    The devastating long-term impact of poverty and food insecurity is well-documented. Cutting back our threadbare social security system further and allowing low wages and insecure work to become the norm will inevitably lead to increasing health inequalities at huge cost to our society. The impact of poverty and food insecurity on people’s physical and mental health entails enormous human cost, strains public finances through the NHS and other support, and further institutionalises an unsustainable charitable food aid system.

     

    £500 million added to the Household Support Fund (HSF) cannot possibly begin to fill the gap left by an inadequate social security safety net. This funding is a drop in the ocean in terms of the scale of need we are seeing. What’s more, the HSF is discretionary and not necessarily distributed as cash first support meaning people must often use vouchers or even food banks to access any help at all.

     

    It’s essential that measures are urgently introduced that will ensure cash first, income-based solutions to growing poverty and food insecurity:

    • benefits must be uprated by at least 8% in line with inflation
    • the 5-week wait for Universal Credit, benefit cap, two-child limit, sanctions system, and No Recourse to Public Funds status must be removed
    • wages should match the cost of living and job security must be ensured
    • crisis payments in the form of cash must be available, easily accessible, and well-promoted in every local authority in the UK 

     

    It is the Government’s responsibility to ensure that everybody in our society can afford food and other essentials. It is not for volunteers to plug the gaps left by a broken social security system and poorly paid jobs. Over the past 12 years, our members have worked tirelessly in often extremely challenging circumstances to support hundreds of thousands of people in communities across the UK. However, there is a limit to food banks’ capacity to support the numbers of people seeking their help. Food bank teams are often over-stretched and exhausted and could well be unable to continue to pick up the pieces. Volunteers cannot be expected to cope both physically and mentally with such relentless demand. What’s more, people who used to donate to food banks are now needing to access help themselves. Our members are struggling to find the resources to provide adequate food parcels as the scale of demand and food and energy price increases impact on the services they run.

     

    Charitable food aid has been an inadequate and unsustainable stop gap measure to growing poverty in the UK for 12 years. We urge you to immediately address the root causes of the poverty driving the need for our services. Food banks are reaching breaking point.
      
    We very much look forward to hearing from you.

    Yours sincerely,

    Sabine Goodwin on behalf of the Independent Food Aid Network including the member organisations listed below:

    Trinity Foodbank Radcliffe, Bury

    Micah Liverpool, Liverpool

    The King's Storehouse, Denbighshire

    West Dunbartonshire Community Foodshare, West Dunbartonshire

    Machars Churches Basics Food Bank, Dumfries and Galloway

    Pembrokeshire Action To Combat Hardship, Pembrokeshire

    Craven Vale Food Bank, Brighton and Hove

    Lambeth Larder Community Food Resource CIC, Lambeth

    Action For Refugees In Lewisham (AFRIL), Lewisham

    Dads' House, Kensington and Chelsea

    Community Essentials CIC, Solihull

    Croftfoot Church Pantry, Glasgow

    Southampton City Mission, Southampton

    Jedburgh Foodbank, Scottish Borders

    Dartmoor Community Kitchen, Teinbridge

    Hambleton Foodshare, Hambleton

    Moray Food Plus, Moray

    Independence Initiative Limited, Sefton

    The River Manchester, Manchester City

    Friends of the Homeless in Fareham and Gosport, Fareham and Gosport

    Kingsbridge Food Bank, South Hams

    Food in Community, South Hams

    Earlsfield Foodbank, Wandsworth

    Pontardawe PANTRY Foodbank, Neath Port Talbot

    North Paddington Food Bank, Westminster

    Lammermuir Larder, East Lothian

    The Glory of Shaddai, Southwark

    Legendary Community Club, Lewisham

    Burton HOPE, East Staffordshire

    Kintyre Food Bank, Argyll and Bute

    Sufra NW London, Brent

    Northampton Hope Centre, West Northamptonshire

    Central and West Integration Network, Glasgow

    Stow Park Community Centre, Newport

    The Worthing Food Foundation, Adur and Worthing

    Braes Storehouse Food Bank, Falkirk

    Rumi's Cave, Brent

    Albrighton Food Bank, Shropshire

    Heart of Braehead, Stirling

    N&B Healthy Living Network, Nuneaton and Bedworth

    Eggcup, Lancaster

    Feeding Gainsborough, West Lindsey

    Instant Neighbour, Aberdeen

    STEP (South Tyrone Empowerment Programme), Mid Ulster

    South Norwood Community Kitchen, Croydon

    Govan Community Project, Glasgow

    Spring Community Hub, Southwark

    Lampeter Food Bank, Ceredigion

    St Paul's Centre, Cheshire East

    Olive Branch Aid, Wandsworth

    Ventnor Community Foodbank, Isle of Wight

    The Hereford Food Bank, Herefordshire

    PBP Foodbank (CETMA), Camarthenshire

    Daventry Food Bank, West Northamptonshire

    Independence Initiative Limited, Sefton

    Leominster Food Bank, Herefordshire

    Fair Frome, Mendip

    Kate's Kitchen, East Ayrshire

    Asylum Link Merseyside, Liverpool

    Kirkcaldy Foodbank, Fife

    Carpenters Café, Newham

    Darkwood Crew - Helping Ferguslie Flourish, Renfrewshire

    Ashton Pantry, Wigan

    EATS Rosyth, Fife

    The Pantry at Tintagel Social Hall, Cornwall

    Newmarket Open Door, West Suffolk

    Carlisle Foodbank, Carlisle

    Lifeshare, Manchester City

    Granville Community Kitchen, Brent

    Preen Community Interest Company, Central Bedfordshire

    One Can Trust Food Bank, Buckinghamshire

    The Welcome Centre, Huddersfield

    Nailsea Community Group, North Somerset

    The Life House, Birmingham City

    Readifood, Reading

    Bishops Stortford Food Bank

    Living Well Bromley, Bromley

    The Storehouse Foodbank Congleton, Cheshire East

    Sandbach Food Bank, Cheshire East

    Broke Not Broken, Perth and Kinross

    We Care Community Hub, Lewisham

    Come Out Of Hiding The Lighthouse Network CIC, Lewisham

    Selby Food Hub, Haringey

    Washington Community Food Project, Sunderland

    Pontarddulais Area Food Bank, Swansea

    The Vineyard Care Centre @The Vineyard Church, St Albans

    Black Country Foodbank, Dudley, Walsall, Sandwell

    Diamond Hampers CIC, Huntingdonshire

    Hemsworth Food Pantry - Food Bank, Wakefield

    The Zink Project, High Peak

    CMFFA Foodbank, Milton Keynes

    Craft In Mind CIC, Warrington

    The SPACE - Supporting People And Community Empowerment, Kensington and Chelsea

    Touch of Love Outreach, Aberdeen

    NewStarts, Bromsgrove

    Rhayader and District Community Support, Powys

    Hope Church Hounslow Foodbank, Hounslow

    The Gate Charity, Clackamannanshire

    St Aidan's FoodShare

    Axminster Food Bank, East Devon

    Eyemouth and East Berwickshire Foodbank, Scottish Borders

    Jubilee Storehouse, Ceredigion

    Lancashire First, Burnley

    Canaan Trust, Erewash

    St Laurences Larder and Open Kitchen, Brent

    Dunbar FoodShare, East Lothian

    Wyre Forest Food Bank, Wyre Forest

    The People's Pantry, Glasgow

    Storehouse Foodbank, Babergh

    Sharing Life Trust, Buckinghamshire

    Clydesdale Food Bank, South Lanarkshire

    Blackpool Food Bank, Blackpool

    Restore Northampton, West Northamptonshire

    Shoreline Church Food Bank, Sefton

    Wycombe Food Hub, Buckinghamshire

    Hope for Belper, Amber Valley

    Harvesters Soup Kitchen, Hackney

    Brackley Foodbank, West Northamptonshire

    The Raft Foundation, Rossendale

    Sutton Coldfield Baptist Church Foodbank, Birmingham

    Central and West Integration Network, Glasgow

    Ystradgynlais Foodbank, Powys

    Telford Crisis Support, Telford and Wrekin

    Wells Vineyard Church Foodbank, Mendip

    Maidenhead FoodShare, Windsor and Maidenhead

    Liberty Food Bank, Croydon

    Bute Oasis Food Bank, Argyll and Bute

    Holbeach Community Larder, South Holland

    Duns Food Bank, Scottish Borders

    Hive Hope Food Bank, Gravesham

    Pan Together, Isle of Wight

    Pantry Foodbank, Neath Port Talbot

    Noah's Ark, Tonbridge and Malling

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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