A Halifax foodbank has handed out double the number emergency food parcels since the government’s new benefits policy has come into effect.
Louise Wyatt from the Christians Together-run foodbank based at Ebenezer Methodist Church in Halifax said this was in addition to their average of 384 regular parcels and has followed the introduction of universal credit in Calderdale.
Universal credit combines six other benefits into one payment but is paid in arrears, meaning every claimant has a wait of at least four weeks and in many cases more.
Louise Wyatt, operations manager at the foodbank, said: “Since universal credit came in we have seen a huge increase in demand and we are only a very small charity.
“The Halifax community have been really supportive with their donations of food and clothing and with the hours they have given up for us.
“The third sector is having to pick up the slack due to austerity – when measures are stripped away you get people who cannot cope.”
Halifax MP Holly Lynch said: “I’m saddened, yet in no way surprised, by the numbers of people using food banks in Calderdale.
“The fact that food bank usage has soared since 2010 is indisputable – it is confirmed by reports from food bank providers and is what many of us have seen for ourselves.
“The Trussell Trust charity have found that nearly half of all foodbank referrals are due to benefit delays and benefit changes and the situation is worsening with the disastrous roll-out of universal credit.
“The government have ignored calls to scrap the wait of up to six weeks before a single penny is paid to claimants, and I know from those coming to my constituency office that this is forcing many people into a critical financial position.
“Without savings to fall back on many people are left on the breadline.
“These are all members of our community – those on disability benefit, people who have lost their job or those who are working on a low income – and they are being badly let down by this government.
“I’m joining the brilliant local homeless charity Smartmove for their sleep out at the Shay Stadium tonight to raise money for the most vulnerable in our area.”