Foodbanks across the country are preparing for a record-breaking increase in emergency food parcels this Christmas.
Our country’s welfare system is to blame.
The Tories disastrous Universal Credit (UC) policy is driving people to foodbanks. Labour will scrap it.
Today, the Trussell Trust has revealed that the top three reasons mentioned by people needing emergency food were insufficient benefit income (36%), delays in benefit payments (18%) and changes to benefit (16%).
A programme that was supposed put six previous benefits and tax credits into one has, instead, forced millions of people into poverty, unable to pay rent or put food on the table.
UC was imposed in full in Barnsley July 2017.
Since then, vulnerable individuals and families have been forced to wait 5 weeks for the first payment, a ‘two-child’ limit has banned extra benefits for third or subsequent children and, in many cases, sanctions have been used to punish people unfairly.
A record number of working people now live in poverty.
In the last six months 47,722 emergency food supplies were given to people in crisis in Yorkshire and Humberside. More than a third of these were to children.
Over the last two years I have raised the concerns of Barnsley East constituents over Universal Credit in Parliament as well as voting against the introduction of a system that will punish those who can’t work and those who are on low hours.
I questioned the then Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on the disproportionate effect of UC on people from Northern England. UC has simply functioned as a vehicle for Tory cuts, causing severe hardship wherever it is rolled out.
It is telling that Tory Ministers, including the then Prime minister, paused the rollout of UC in their own constituencies. The very creators of the programme were unwilling to expose their constituents to its consequences.
Nearly 10 wasted years of Tory government have left the benefits and tax credits system of this country in shambles.
A Labour Government will scrap Universal Credit, replacing it with a social security system based on fairness. It will protect people from poverty, not drive them into it.
It will introduce an emergency package of reforms to immediately deal with the worst aspects of UC, including the benefit cap and two child limits, which alone will stop up to 300,000 children from being pushed into poverty.
It will also suspend the punitive sanctions regime and the ‘digital only requirement’.
Labour has pledged to halve foodbank usage within our first year in office and end it within three years.
I will continue to campaign for a benefits system that protects people from hunger and poverty.