The record number of people using food banks shows ‘the fierce, burning inequality’ blighting the UK, Unite, the country’s largest union, said today (Friday 15 April).
The union contrasted the more than one million three-day supplies of goods, handed out by the Trussell Trust, with the almost £14 million pay package earmarked for the BP chief executive Bob Dudley.
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “Following hard on the heels of the billions stashed abroad by the rich and powerful we have today’s heart-rending report from the Trussell Trust that hundreds of thousands of our fellow-citizens, including children, are struggling, one step away from starvation, in the fifth richest economy in the world.
“If anything demonstrated the fierce and burning inequality engulfing our country, it is the repugnant contrast between a rich elite who can enjoy tax-light arrangements for the cash they have squirreled away in the British Virgin Islands with the tales of daily despair emanating from the trust’s 424 foodbanks.
“Most of those using food banks are in work, but are referred to the trust because of low wages and benefit delays brought about by this government’s chaotic welfare upheaval.
“What will it take for this government to accept that six years of mindless austerity not only fails economically but cause tremendous human misery?
“Wages are still £40-a-week down on 2010 levels and personal debt remains the highest in Europe, but it is children who are bearing the brunt of hard hearted ministerial policies.
“It is a national disgrace and those on the Conservative benches should not just hang their heads in shame but act now to block the further cuts their party plans to unleash on ordinary people and struggling families.”
Latest figures published by The Trussell Trust show that food bank use remains at record levels, rising two percent on last year. 1,109,309 three day emergency food supplies were provided to people in crisis by the charity’s 424 foodbanks in the 2015/16 financial year, compared to 1,084,604 in 2014/15.
Of this number, 415,866 went to children. This is a measure of volume rather than unique users, and on average, people needed two foodbank referrals in the last year.