Half A Million Turning To Food Aid

Half a million people in the UK are suffering from severe hunger and are turning to food aid as a result of government welfare reforms, according to Oxfam.

The charity has called for a Parliamentary inquiry following a report published by Church Action Poverty and Oxfam.

'Walking the Breadline' details an increase in the use of food banks in the UK as a result of changes to the benefit system, unemployment, increasing levels of underemployment, low and falling income and rising food and fuel prices.

Changes to the benefit system are the most common reasons for people using food banks, the report says.

Mark Goldring, Oxfam's CEO said: "The shocking reality is that hundreds of thousands of people in the UK are turning to food aid. Cuts to social safety-nets have gone too far, leading to destitution, hardship and hunger on a large scale. It is unacceptable that this is happening in the seventh wealthiest nation on the planet."

The Trussell Trust, which is the biggest provider of food banks in the UK, reported last month that over 350,000 people turned to food banks for help in the last year. This was almost triple the number from the previous year.

The new report warns that the true number of hungry people could be more than half a million people, as it claims the problem is not being sufficiently monitored.

Niall Cooper, Church Action on Poverty CEO, and the report's lead author, said: "The safety net that was there to protect people is being eroded to such an extent that we are seeing a rise in hunger. Food banks are not designed to, and should not, replace the 'normal' safety net provided by the state in the form of welfare support."

The report recommends an urgent Parliamentary inquiry into the situation, as well as regular information regarding the number and type of households deprived of benefits by reason of benefit delay, error or sanctions.


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