As reported in the Barnsley News and Sport on 25th April, Stephanie has labelled recently released figures that show a substantial rise in foodbank use over the last year a ‘national disgrace’.
Statistics revealed by the Trussell Trust – the UK’s largest foodbank provider – show across the UK there was a 13 per cent rise in the number of emergency food parcels provided in the UK.
From April 2017 to March 2018, the Trussell Trust provided over 1.3m emergency three-day food supplies to people in food crisis, up from less than 1.2 the previous year.
Of these emergency supplies, nearly 500,000 were given to children.
In the Barnsley East constituency of the MP, who has regularly visited foodbanks throughout the area, 4,322 three-day emergency food supplies were given to people facing crisis by the Trussell Trust Foodbank Network, 1,552 of which were for children.
Across the Yorkshire and Humber region, there was a rise from 69,280 to 77,411 over the last year.
The figures don’t include independent foodbanks – estimated to be over 650 across the country – meaning the overall number of foodbank emergency food parcels and foodbank users is likely to be significantly higher.
Revealing their latest figures, the Trussell Trust have identified low income and insufficient benefits, rather than earning, as the single biggest and fastest growing reason for referral to a foodbank.
The Government’s flagship policy of Universal Credit in particular has come under fire.
In areas that received a full roll-out of universal credit over 12 months ago, there has been 52 per cent rise in foodbank use.
Areas such as Barnsley that transitioned to universal credit less than 12 months but over 6 months ago have averaged a 30 per cent rise in emergency food parcels.
Commenting on the figures, Stephanie said: “That in this day and age so many people here in Barnsley and across the UK are unable to afford food is nothing short of a national disgrace.
“Foodbank use has grown every year under this Government, and now the largest provider of emergency food parcels in the UK has pointed the finger directly at the Tories’ flagship benefits policy as main reason for this continued growth.
“This Tory Government needs to urgently fix their disastrous universal credit policy and act immediately to address this national shame.”