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Universal credit leading to rise in food bank use, charity says

Britain’s biggest food bank charity has called for urgent changes to universal credit after unveiling figures that show it gave out more than 650,000 food parcels in the past six months – a year-on-year increase of 13%.

The Trussell Trust said the government’s insistence on making new claimants wait at least five weeks for their first universal credit payment was driving big increases in the numbers of benefit claimants relying on food banks.

The trust said more than a fifth of referrals to its network of 428 food banks were generated as a result of claimants facing delays in benefit payments. Nearly a third of this group were waiting specifically for a first universal credit payment.

The biggest single reason for a food bank referral over the period (31%) was the failure of benefit payments to cover the cost of living essentials, while benefit changes – a category that includes benefit sanctions – accounted for 17% of referrals.

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