THE Government might claim it is doing all it can to alleviate problems with the introduction of the new universal credit system, but the evidence on the ground suggests its efforts are proving insufficient.

The Trussell Trust releases new figures today showing that its network of food banks provided more than 650,000 supplies between April and September, a 13 per cent increase on the same period in 2017.

In the North-East, the provision of almost 23,000 items represented an increase of 8.4 per cent. In Yorkshire and the Humber, food-bank supplies rose by 17 per cent.

There are a variety of issues that drive people to food banks, but the Trussell Trust cites the five-week minimum wait for a first Universal Credit payment as a key factor in the rise.

Emma Revie, chief executive of the charity, said: “It’s not right that people are being forced to use food banks after weeks of waiting for Universal Credit payments.”

In last month’s budget, Philip Hammond injected £1.7bn into work allowances to help low-income working families and announced an extra £1bn over five years to provide extra protection for people who are being moved over to universal credit.

However, the time lag before a first payment is received remains unacceptably long, and Mr Hammond has not addressed the problem.

Unless the situation improves, the pressure on food banks this winter could be unsustainable. The Government cannot wait until the system collapses entirely before it decides to act.