Trussell Trust Press Release September 2021

17th September 2021

Taunton Foodbank asks local people to write to Rebecca Pow MP as new research shows 1.2m people fear they will be forced to skip meals if UK government cuts Universal Credit payments this October

New report from the Trussell Trust also shows 1.3m people fear being unable to heat their homes this winter if the cut goes ahead

Taunton Foodbank is asking local people to write to Rebecca Pow MP to help protect people in the community from hunger, as a new survey from the Trussell Trust lays bare the devastating impacts of a £20 a week cut from Universal Credit payments due across the UK next month.

New research conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Trussell Trust* finds that a fifth of people currently claiming Universal Credit – representing 1.2 million people in the UK – say they are ‘very likely’ to need to skip meals when the cut hits. Furthermore, 21% of people surveyed – representing 1.3 million people – told researchers they would struggle to heat their homes this winter if their income is slashed in October.

Worryingly, 11% surveyed representing 670,000 people, say it’s very likely they won’t be able to afford to switch on their oven to cook food after the cut and 900,000 people say they are very likely not to have enough money to travel to work or make essential trips such as medical appointments.

Taunton Foodbank, part of the Trussell Trust’s network, provided over 4,327 emergency food parcels to local people in Taunton, Wellington, Wiveliscombe and the surrounding villages between April 2020 and March 2021. These parcels provided food for over 8,200 people of whom almost 4,000 were children.

Sue Weightman, Foodbank Manager of Taunton Foodbank said:

“We’ve been providing emergency support to local people since 2012 and although we’ll always do whatever we can to get people the help they need, no one in the local area should be struggling to afford the essentials.

“We don’t want even more people to need our help this winter. But this is the biggest overnight cut to social security since the Second World War and will be a huge blow for millions of families both in and out of work. It’ll also land right at the start of what is usually our busiest time of the year, just as the colder weather starts drawing in.

“Social security should be strong enough for all of us to rely on when we need a lifeline – because, as the pandemic has shown us, life is full of things we can’t plan for. The UK government must choose to protect people when they need support, not cut them adrift. If you agree, please write to Rebecca Pow our local MP and ask her to help keep the lifeline.”

Local people are being urged to write to their MP and call on them to take action:

The Trussell Trust says the planned cut isn’t right and the vast majority of the UK public agrees. The research finds only one in five members of the UK public surveyed believes that social security provided enough support to people with physical and / or mental health conditions, which affect most people visiting food banks.

Emma Revie, chief executive at the Trussell Trust, said:

“Cutting this lifeline will be a devastating blow for many people across Taunton, Wellington, Wiveliscombe and the surrounding villages already struggling to make ends meet. These are families already caught in impossible situations who worry every day about switching on the heating and feeding their children. Families who are nearly at breaking point but just about managing to keep their heads above water.

“This research reveals the shocking consequences of what lies ahead if this lifeline is cut in October. No one should have to suffer the indignity of not being able to afford the essentials in life – like food. That’s why we’re saying it would be wrong of the UK government to take away £20 a week from already precarious incomes and push even more people through the doors of food banks.

“The answer must be to ensure our social security system provides people with enough money to cover the essentials. At the very least we’re saying this October, the UK government must choose to protect people and choose to keep the lifeline.”

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