The Trussell Trust has warned that the next stage of the Universal Credit rollout could lead to a significant rise in foodbank usage.
Previous research by the Trussell Trust has highlighted that disabled people are more “disproportionately likely” to need access to foodbanks, with research undertaken in 2017 showing that over 50% of homes where foodbanks were used included a disabled person.
The same report highlighted the struggles of benefits delays: two in five people using foodbanks were awaiting the payment of their benefits, with some waiting for up to six weeks to receive their benefits – an issue greatly exacerbated by the rollout of Universal Credit, with the Trussell Trust noting that many turning to foodbanks are doing so while waiting for their first payment under the new system, or that the act of moving onto Universal Credit itself is causing hardship.
These concerns come as the DWP finalises its plans for the next stage of the Universal Credit rollout, which will be taken to Parliament later this month. This stage of migration will see three million claimants moved from the old to the new system – which the Trussell Trust believes will cause hardship and upheaval for many.
Chief executive of the Trussel Trust, Emma Revie, said: “We created our benefits system in this country to free people from poverty, not lock them into it. As we look at the current plans for the next stage of Universal Credit, we’re really worried that our network of foodbanks could see a big increase in people needing help. Leaving three million people to wait at least five weeks for a first payment – especially when we have already decided they need support through our old benefits or tax credits system – is just not good enough.
“Now is the time for our Government to take responsibility for moving people currently on the old system over, and to ensure no one faces a gap in payments when that moves happens. Universal Credit needs to be ready for anyone who might need its help, and it needs to be ready before the next stage begins.”
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