I-SPHERE research for the Trussell Trust shows food banks are forecast to give out six emergency food parcels a minute this winter

Today the Trussell Trust released Lockdown, Lifelines and the Long Haul Ahead revealing how coronavirus has affected food bank use, with a huge rise in people needing to use a food bank in its network for the first time.

Analysis carried out by I-SPHERE with support from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research estimates that if changes aren’t made this autumn, there is likely to be a 61% rise in need at food banks in the Trussell Trust’s network this winter, equating to 846,000 food parcels being given out.

With mass unemployment predicted on a scale not seen since the early nineties, there will be further rises in poverty with 670,000 additional people classed as destitute by the end of 2020, meaning they cannot afford essentials like housing, energy and food. This is on top of year-on-year rises in the number of people unable to afford food and forced to food banks across the UK. And families with children are being the hardest hit.

Professor Glen Bramley from I-SPHERE at Heriot-Watt University said:

“Covid-19 has exposed the fact that many in our society are vulnerable to economic disruption and loss of work. It has shown that the ‘safety net’ of Universal Credit and other benefits is full of holes, meagre in scale of support and liable to encourage greater indebtedness among the poorest. The economic disruption has affected wide areas and sections of society, but as so often, it is those already less well-off who have been worst hit. If the furlough scheme and other ‘temporary’ measures are not extended, the situation will worsen this winter and the foodbanks will be even more hard-pressed.”

Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said:

“Communities throughout the country have shown enormous resilience in helping more people than ever before. But food banks and other community charities cannot continue to pick up the pieces. None of us should need a charity’s help to put food on the table.
Our research finds that Covid-19 has led to tens of thousands of new people needing to use a food bank for the first time. This is not right. If we don’t take action now, there will be further catastrophic rises in poverty in the future.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. The pandemic has exposed the power of what happens when we stand together in the face of adversity. We must harness this power to create the changes needed to prevent many more people being locked into poverty this winter. With the furlough scheme set to wind down, we must act now to put in place protection for each other. The Budget and Comprehensive Spending Review present a pivotal opportunity to put things right. We must take it to help us weather the storm left in the wake of Covid-19.”

The Trussell Trust believes there should be no higher priority than preserving the lifelines that have saved many of us from destitution through this pandemic. Find out more about the charity’s response to the research findings including its calls for action in this autumn’s budget and Comprehensive Spending Review.


You can also read I-SPHERE’s full technical report Heriot Watt technical report – modelling household impacts  the technical report by National Institute of Economic and Social Research NIESR report , and  David Simmonds Consultancy supporting technical report which models the indirect inter-industry and local level employment impacts of the national economic scenarios considered.