07:00AM, Saturday 15 January 2022
Slough Foodbank has seen a 54 per cent increase in the number of food parcels distributed in the last two years.
The figures cover January 2019 to December 2021.
The total number of food parcels for the whole of 2021 was 7,365 – a 13 per cent rise from the previous year.
Slough Foodbank puts the increase down to ‘years of austerity, static incomes and cuts’ even before the pandemic hit.
Rising living costs, high energy prices and ‘inadequate’ Universal Credit payments are also taking a toll, the foodbank says.
A £20-a-week uplift to Universal Credit, introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, ended in September last year.
Moreover, it was announced that the energy price cap was set to rise by £139 a year (12 per cent) to £1,277 for a typical gas and electricity customer.
At the time, foodbanks in Slough and the Royal Borough raised concerns this combination would be ‘too much’ and would lead to more people needing help.
Since then, it has come to light that typical energy bills could increase by £700 or more when the energy price cap is lifted in April.
Slough Foodbank communications officer, Becks Ford said: “Many just do not know what the future might hold and struggle with benefit delays and changes, low income, debt, job losses and homelessness.
“Sadly, these statistics for 2021 show there is lots for us to do to ensure we can provide food during a time of crisis.”
Slough Foodbank’s primary function is to supply a three-day emergency food parcel to those who suddenly find themselves in an unexpected crisis.
It also supplies basic toiletries, household, baby products and pet food if required.
The foodbank has given out 305 emergency fuel vouchers for home gas or electricity for clients who qualify to receive food parcels.
This is to enable clients to cook and heat their homes – without having to choose between the two.
Slough Foodbank has had to be ‘quite strict’ that those receiving fuel vouchers are in food poverty, as it has limited grant money to work from.
The foodbank has received many more requests for fuel vouchers lately – it seems to them that ‘every other food voucher’ handed to them comes with a fuel request as well.
As well as its work on the ground, Slough Foodbank says it will ‘continue to help raise the profile of food poverty and lobby for those who are in need.’
Any local organisation or charity that works with people who might need Slough Foodbank should contact them on 01753 550303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org