Sheffield MP expresses shock over 23, 000 food parcel hand outs across area

Louise Haigh MP.
Louise Haigh MP.

A Sheffield MP has expressed her shock after figures revealed more than 23, 000 emergency food packages were handed out in South Yorkshire in the last year.

The number of three-day emergency food supplies given to people in crisis across Sheffield, Doncaster, Rotherham and Barnsley rose by more than 2000 from 2016/17 to 2017/18.

Russell Hawker of Burngreave Foodbank searches through the donated food.

Russell Hawker of Burngreave Foodbank searches through the donated food.

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And more than a third of these were handed out to children living on the breadline, according to figures revealed today by the Trussell Trust.

Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh blamed the rise on Government imposed cuts to services.

She added: "This is a significant increase on the already shocking rates of food bank need in South Yorkshire, which is a direct result of the state of our public services after eight years of Tory neglect.

"These figures from Trussell Trust are bad enough without taking into account other food banks, which make up three of the four in Sheffield Heeley."

Russell Hawker, Clara Oni, Lisa Dernie and Nikki Lacey of Burngreave Foodbank with a food parcel.

Russell Hawker, Clara Oni, Lisa Dernie and Nikki Lacey of Burngreave Foodbank with a food parcel.

The charity said there has been a significant increase in demand for foodbanks in areas where Universal Credit has been rolled out.

The Government introduced UC as a way of simplifying the system by rolling several different benefits into a single monthly payment.

But the trust said many people are experiencing delays in receiving payments, pushing them into financial difficulty and the use of foodbanks.

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Ms Haigh added: "I'll continue working to challenge the Government over their policies which have increased poverty locally, included Universal Credit scheduled to roll out fully later this year.

"It does not need to be this way, and we will keep pushing for a fairer and more humane benefits system."

Between April 1 2017 and March 31 2018 there were 23, 813 emergency food parcels handed out in South Yorkshire including 8617 to children.

This was higher than the previous financial year in which there were 21, 713 handed out in total and 7708 to kids.

The most common reasons for referrals to foodbanks were 'benefit delays' (27 per cent) and 'low income' (25 per cent).

Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said it was "vital we get Universal Credit right" and "ensure levels of payment keep pace with the rising cost of essentials."

There are seven foodbanks run by the trust across South Yorkshire.

Rachel Snow, administrator at Burngreave Foodbank, said: "We see a lot of people on low incomes and those who have just started receiving new benefits experiencing delays in receiving their first payment."

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A government spokesman said ministers "remain determined to ensure that people joining Universal Credit don’t face hardship."

Late last year the Government announced 'significant improvements' to the system.