UNIVERSAL CREDIT: Food bank launches petition to end the 5-week wait for support

The Trussell Trust has started a campaign to change the 5-week Universal Credit waiting time after seeing a rise of users. 

The petition aims to collect 5,000 signatures as their foodbank sees some people waiting for a single Universal Credit payment for over a month.

People have expressed their dismay at the long waiting time and used the tag #5WeeksTooLong on social media to share their struggles.

The trust stated: “People supported by Universal Credit shouldn’t need a food bank but from the very start, everyone who applies has to wait at least five weeks for a full payment – some are left waiting longer.”

Universal Credit replaces other benefits such as: Child tax credit, housing benefits, income support, job seeker’s allowance (JSA), working tax credits and employment and support allowance (ESA). This support is designed to help people with the cost of living – however this comes at a greater cost, like poverty and starvation.

“It’s unacceptable that anyone should have to use a foodbank”

Trussell Trust is a well-known food bank network across the South East of England, but based in Salisbury.

The network of foodbanks has seen a major increase in the number of children and adults using the additional nutritional support.

Last month Amber Rudd announced that the “government will not extend the two-child limit on Universal Credit for children born before April 2017, when the policy came into effect, benefitting around 15,000 families.”

December of 2017 saw 159,388 using the banks, a massive 14,711 more people than the previous year.

The Trussell Trust’s chief executive Emma Revie was appalled by the numbers.

She said: “Ultimately, it’s unacceptable that anyone should have to use a foodbank in the first place.

“We do not want to be here in the long-term, continuing to pick up the pieces.

“That’s why we’re urging the Government to ensure benefits payments reflect the cost of living and reduce the waiting time for Universal Credit to help ensure we are all anchored from poverty.”

Professor of Food and Health Policy at City University London, Professor Martin Caraher, blames Universal Credit for the surge of foodbank users.

He said: “Only about 2 out of every 10 people in poverty get to a foodbank – the other 8 use family resources, loans and credit.

“Universal Credit is clearly one of the main drivers here, driving people to foodbanks – being put on sanctions, being removed from the benefit system and it’s a complete disaster.”

Closer to home

We reached out to Alan Baldock, the Labour councillor for Northgate, which is reported to be one of Canterbury’s most deprived areas.

Alan was devastated that children in the city and across the country still go hungry on a daily basis.

He said: “It can never be right that a child lives in a home where food, heat, comforts, bills and utilities have to be juggled against each other to such an extent.

“I know that those children feel those pressures, even if their parents try to shield them from them.”

If you would like to sign the petition, click here.

Listen below as UNIfied reporter, Brittany Tijou-Smith, explores the topic of food waste and food banks in Kent:

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Brittany Tijou-Smith

Brittany is a third year Multimedia Journalism student, her work has been featured on KentLive and KentOnline. Her filming work also won ‘Documentary of the Year 2018’ at Canterbury Christ Church University.

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