As the cost of living continues to rise, charities like the Trussell Trust, who provide access to over 1,200 food banks across the UK, are working hard to ensure that those living below the poverty line have access to food. The Trussell Trust works courageously to donate household essentials to families who would otherwise go without. Sadly, the need for food bank donations is increasing alongside the number of people who are now living in poverty.
The Trussell Trust reported that ‘the need for food banks in our network has increased by 81% since five years ago.’ The organisation is connected to two-thirds of the UK’s food banks, and between 2016 to 2017 an incredible 1,201,286 emergency food parcels were delivered across the UK. Comparatively, from 2021 to 2022, this figure has reached 2,173,158.
The trust is partnered with food banks across the UK that they fund through public donations and grants. They also investigate the systemic causes of poverty to achieve their self-proclaimed ‘vision’ ‘for a UK without the need for food banks.’
According to the OCHA, factors such as poor healthcare systems, insufficient government support, and lack of education and jobs, contribute to the likelihood of someone living in poverty. Individuals without a standard education may lack the skills necessary to be considered employable or find it hard to land high-income jobs, let alone those that pay a living wage.
Lack of education contributes to the lack of jobs that one is qualified to fulfil.
People living with chronic illnesses, poor mental health, or those who cannot afford, or have access to treatment, are also at risk of living in poverty. Unsuitable housing and work conditions can also induce health complications that make it hard to work.
Those living in poverty are compromising essentials for others in a desperate attempt to afford the rising cost of living. Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said `People are telling us they’re skipping meals so they can feed their children. That they are turning off essential appliances so they can afford internet access for their kids to do their homework.’
Insufficient government support is an integral reason why those living in poverty are struggling to get by. During April, the energy price cap increased by 54%, a further 42% increase from October 2021. Energy suppliers can now increase their rates and charge households more for their usual bills.
Although poor households are the ones to suffer most from the inflated costs of energy prices, they are not the only ones. British politician Ed Miliband recently labelled the situation ‘a social emergency’ that affects not just ‘families out of work, but families in work too.’ The UK’s government is under scrutiny for its supposed lack of accountability and action, but what should be changed?
Many believe that the national living wage is not liveable but an indicator of how much employers should pay their employees at a minimum rate. In April, national insurance contributions increased from 12% to 13.5%. This tax increase was implemented to invest money back into the NHS post-pandemic, but employees will take a direct cut from their earnings.
Some propose that an increase in universal credit would be a beneficial step toward combating current inflation rates. Universal credit claimants already received a 3.1% allowance increase in April - but is this enough to alleviate any of the pressure caused by recent tax increases and inflation? For instance, if you are 25 or older and single, you would have received an extra £10 per month since April 11.
The UK government’s official Spring Statement 2022, released in March, covers how the nation’s economy is strategically recovering from the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This recovery involved the reformation and lowering of taxes to help families cope with the rising cost of living. The national insurance primary threshold will increase by £3000 as of July 2022 so that families who earn below £12,570 per year will be able to keep more of their income.
Families whose livelihoods depend on charities like the Trussell Trust need tax deductions and increased benefits to help them stay afloat. The Trussell Trust is partnered with over 1,200 food banks with whom they support in providing at least three days of emergency food supplies to those in need. Such people are referred to their local food banks by professional services such as schools, social workers and doctor’s surgeries.
The Trussell Trust recognises that its food parcels are a short-term solution to the UK’s hunger crisis. The parcels provide emergency relief whilst the trust also offers additional, tailored support to investigate the systemic causes of poverty.
If you feel you can, please consider donating to the Trussell Trust through their partnership with Tescos. Your nearest food bank is in desperate need of items that you will be able to shop for and drop off, at your local Tescos. Before donating, check what items the food bank you are donating to is in need of, then simply leave your kind donations at the collection point. Said points will be available in UK Tescos from 30th June - 2nd July. Alternatively, you can make direct donations to the Trussell Trust through their website.
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