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Explosion in food bank across North-East revealed
AN EIGHT-fold explosion in the use of emergency food banks across the region can be revealed today (Wednesday) – as a protest reaches David Cameron.
More than 20,000 people received a three-day aid package in just six months in the North-East and North Yorkshire, the Trussell Trust charity warned.
That staggering number has risen from only around 2,500 in the equivalent period of 2012, between April and September.
The figures show that – a year ago – only the food banks in County Durham were receiving large numbers of visitors requiring help (2,271).
Between April and September this year, a total of 6,021 people used Durham food banks, according to the Trussell Trust, an increase of 165.1 per cent.
And the worrying trend has spread into North Yorkshire, with food banks now firmly established in York (1,675), Harrogate (410) and Ryedale (96).
The figures were revealed as the Trust released a letter it has written to the prime minister demanding action to tackle the “scandalous” problem.
Chris Mould, its executive chairman, said: “The level of food poverty in the UK is not acceptable.
“We said, in April, that the increasing numbers of people turning to food banks should be a wake-up call to the nation - but there has been no policy response and the situation is getting worse.
“It's scandalous and it is causing deep distress to thousands of people. The time has come for an official, in-depth, inquiry into the causes of food poverty and the consequent rise in the usage of food banks.”
Across the country, more than 350,000 people received food aid in the six-month period this year – three times the number in the same period of 2012.
The protest letter is certain to kick-start a fresh row about the reason for the increase, which Conservative ministers have attributed to better information – and free food.
In contrast, the Trust has said the majority of people tell the organisation that they need help because of benefit cuts, or delays in making payments.
A whopping £18bn is being stripped from the social security bill in this parliament, including real-terms cuts to tax credits for the low-paid.
Meanwhile, job centres have been told to stop the benefits of anyone deemed not to be actively looking for work, often for trivial reasons, MPs have protested.
Last week, British Red Cross announced it would provide volunteers to support Tesco’s collections for food banks, because it is so concerned by levels of hunger in the UK.
Mr Mould added: “We're talking about mums not eating for days because they've been sanctioned for seemingly illogical reasons.
“Or people are leaving hospital after a major operation to find that their benefits have been stopped or delayed.”
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