Use of foodbanks DOUBLES in 3 years
FOODBANK usage in Middleton has more than doubled in three years, as people are struggling to cope with low wages, changes to benefits and the rollout of Universal Credit, it has been claimed.
The number of food parcels given to families and individuals at Middleton Central Foodbank increased from 1,347 between July 2015 and June 2016, to 2,760 from July 2017 to June 2018 – a jump of 104.9 per cent.
The top four reasons people cited for needing to use the foodbank, based in Middleton Shopping Centre, were low income (27.5pc), benefit delays (27pc), benefit changes (21pc) and debt (8pc).
Carl Roach, the Lighthouse Project’s development manager and manager of Middleton Central Foodbank said demand is growing year on year.
“People seem to be struggling to make ends meet and are affected by changes and delays with their benefit payments,” he added. “We are in an area where Universal Credit is being rolled out and between the years 2016 and 2017 we saw a significant leap in foodbank usage. Demand is still growing year on year, but thankfully not quite at the same rate as in 2017.
“Thankfully the donations to the foodbank have also increased and, apart from the summer of 2017 when we virtually ran out, food donations have kept pace with demand.”
Staff at the foodbank are also working with individuals to improve their skills and knowledge and increase their chances of getting back into work.
“Where the government saves a few quid by delaying a claimant’s payment for a few weeks or imposing a sanction, the slack is being taken up by charities like our own – and probably at much more cost than the amounts saved,” he added.
Liz McInnes, the MP for Middleton and Heywood, said: “It is absolutely scandalous that in one of the world’s richest economies we have so many people and families – including many in work – who are forced to rely on foodbanks to survive.
“Throughout the last year, my office has received complaints and pleas for support from residents struggling to make ends meet due to problems with Universal Credit.
“Stagnating wages, unreliable work and the increasing cost of living are also playing a part in forcing families towards foodbanks.
“My thanks and admi- ration go to all the staff and volunteers at the Lighthouse Project and other foodbanks both here locally and across the country, who give their time to help those who are struggling through no fault of their own.”
From July 2015 to June 2016, there were 810 visits by adults and 537 by children at the foodbank run by the Lighthouse Project.
The following year, from July 2016 to June 2017, the numbers rose to 1,373 visits by adults and 676 by children – 2049 in total, which is a 52.1pc increase on the previous year.
By the period from July 2017 to June 2018, usage was up to 1,721 visits from adults and 1,039 from children – 2,760 in total, or a 34.6pc increase.
Carl Roach from the Lighthouse Project, who is also manager of Middleton Central Foodbank, says demand is increasing year on year but donations are thankfully keeping pace
From left: Foodbank volunteers Mark Fraser, Eileen Sutch, Margaret Ratchford, Ian Jones and Jeremy Ratchford with some donations