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Foodbank usage soars in demand since Universal Credit rollout

FOODBANK usage has soared in areas where universal credit (UC) has been longest in operation, new research reveals today.

Where the controversial welfare scheme has been rolled out for at least a year, foodbanks have seen a 30 per cent increase in demand, according to the Trussell Trust.

Demand jumps to 40 per cent where UC has been in place for at least 18 months, said the charity.

The trust urged the government to end the five-week wait for the benefit.

Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Margaret Greenwood said the “shocking data” disproved ministers’ “repeated efforts to explain away any link.”

Ms Greenwood said: “It is completely wrong for people to be left waiting five weeks or more for a first payment.

“Advances are not the answer; they are loans that have to be paid back, pushing people further into debt and leaving them vulnerable to scams.”

Faye Goldman of the charity Gingerbread said UC was failing single-parent families particularly as they are often already “existing on a financial knife edge,” and repeated calls for an end to the five-week wait.

Iain Porter of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said: “The Trussell Trust is right that there is nothing compassionate or just about the initial five-week wait for UC.

“Nor can we stand by while the system is forcing families to turn to foodbanks when it should be helping to end the need for them.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said the report “categorically does not prove that UC is the reason behind increased foodbank usage.”

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