Food bank use has gone up by 60% in the last year alone in the south-east of England, the UK’s second wealthiest area after London, according to a new report by a Green politician.
The study, Hungry Christmas, was published by Keith Taylor, Green party MEP for the south-east, who said that the findings were a “national disgrace”.
It blames the increase in food bank use on the rising cost of living, along with key government reforms of the welfare system. According to the report, 33% of people needing handouts are facing benefits delays, while 19% name benefit reforms as their reason for turning to food banks. A further 18.5% say that low incomes have led to their situation.
Taylor said, “Food banks are a lifeline to those in need and, sadly, one of Britain’s booming industries. Across the south-east demand for emergency food is soaring while people’s wages stagnate and the cost of living shoots up.”
He added, “This report reveals a shameful side of the British economy that the government is trying to hide. In the sixth largest economy in the world, no one should be relying on emergency food handouts at Christmas, it’s a national disgrace.”
Taylor also called upon the government to release a report, which he claims they are trying to suppress.
The report comes less than two weeks after the autumn statement, in which the chancellor George Osborne said the British economy was on the road to recovery. He was criticised for these claims by food poverty charity Trussell Trust, who said the poorest in society were facing the “toughest ever winter” and that it had helped more than half a million people since April.
Last week, Britain’s first ‘social’ supermarket opened its doors to customers on in and out of work benefits in an attempt to reduce the amount of people turning to food banks for support.