Foodbank is ‘very concerned’ for families after Universal Credit cut

Nusrat Ghani

Nourish Community Foodbank say the benefit cut comes just as fuel bills are increasing and at the end of the government’s job retention scheme that finished on September 30.

The £20 increase in universal credit was first introduced at the start of the pandemic in March last year as a temporary measure at the same time as the first lockdown was introduced.

The reduction to the benefit came into effect last Wednesday (October 6) and is expected to affect around six million people across the UK.

The government has insisted the £20 additional benefit was always temporary due to the pandemic.

Operations Manager at Nourish, Dawn Stanford, told the Times: “Whilst Nourish is an independent, non-political and non-religious affiliated charity, we are clearly very aware of the impact that the £20 reduction in universal credit will bring, especially combined with an increase in fuel bills.

“For households who are struggling on a low income, add this to furlough ending and we are very concerned for many of the families in our community.

“Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, we have seen a steady increase in service users at Nourish, hitting a peak in Spring 2020 where we saw a 150 per cent increase in demand—to put this into context, we provided over 91,000 meals in 2019-2020.”

She added: “Whilst that peak is behind us, we are still managing referral numbers week in, week out that we only ever used to see around our busy period pre-Christmas.

“Nourish remains committed to being here for this crisis and the next, and with the incredible support of our local community, we will do everything we can to support households living in food poverty who need our help.”

Nourish Community Foodbank was founded by Olga Johnson in Tunbridge Wells nearly ten years ago.

Since then, it has gone on to provide thousands of meals each year to needy families.

Last June Olga was awarded the MBE for founding Nourish and for her other charity work, while operations manager Dawn was recognised with a BEM (British Empire Medal).

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