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1 May, 2020 Open access

Coalition of anti-poverty charities calls for new coronavirus emergency income support scheme in light of record increase in number of people supported by food banks

Scheme would include increase in benefits for children, suspending recovery of advance payments, and lifting benefit cap and two-child limit

A coalition of anti-poverty charities has called for a new coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency income support scheme to be established in light of a record increase in the number of people being supported by food banks.

In a joint letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, the charities - that include the Trussell Trust, the Child Poverty Action Group, the Children's Society, and the Independent Food Aid Network - say that, while they welcome the steps the government has taken so far to keep people in work and strengthen the social security system -

'... across all our organisations we are seeing increasing numbers of people who are now experiencing hardship or are hugely concerned that they are on the brink of serious financial difficulty. On Friday, the Trussell Trust will publish figures on the use of food banks in the second half of March, showing an 81 per cent increase in the number of people supported compared with the same time last year. Figures from the Independent Food Aid Network, which represents food banks operating independently of the Trussell Trust network, show similar increases in the support provided.'

As a result, the charities say that -

'Now is the time for the government to build on the measures to date and introduce a time-limited coronavirus emergency income support scheme. This scheme would provide a temporary set of measures to protect people already experiencing, or at high risk of, financial hardship.'

The charities also attach a briefing which sets out the steps that could be taken as part of the scheme, including -

Commenting on the letter to the Chancellor, Trussell Trust chief executive Emma Revie said -

'The last few weeks have shown we must come together to protect each other against the unexpected. Like a tidal wave gathering pace, an economic crisis is sweeping towards us – but we don’t all have lifeboats. It’s not right that this has meant some of us don’t have enough money for essentials and are being pushed to food banks. Now is the time to build on the foundations our government has laid. We need emergency measures to ensure people can makes ends meet during this crisis. We have the power to come together as a country and make sure support is there to stop any of us being swept into poverty during this emergency.'

For more information, see Food banks record spike in need as coalition of anti-poverty charities call for strong lifeline to be thrown to anyone who needs it from trusselltrust.org