Jennette Arnold slams ‘scandalous’ spike in Islington food bank use, as shown by latest The Trussell Trust data

Cllr Troy Gallagher and Kathy Weston from Islington Food Bank outside Islington Town Hall. Picture:

Cllr Troy Gallagher and Kathy Weston from Islington Food Bank outside Islington Town Hall. Picture: Islington Council - Credit: Archant

Islington’s growing dependence on food banks has been laid bare in “scandalous” data published by The Trussell Trust today.

The charity’s figures reveal 5,688 three day emergency food supplies were given out in the borough between April 2018 and March 2019: a rise of six per cent on the previous year.

London Assembly Member Jennette Arnold OBE was quick to condemn the government’s record, drawing parallels between welfare reforms, Universal Credit, rolled-out in Islington last June, and the rising numbers of people struggling to feed themselves.

“Sadly, these figures are likely to be just the tip of the iceberg,” she said. “But they should provide a wake-up call for the Government.

“They must now urgently step in to address the issue of low pay and fully confront the consequences of their disastrous welfare reforms. [...]

“It is scandalous that we are continuing to see a growing dependence on food banks in our community.”

Universal Credit is an online-only system combining six legacy benefits into one monthly payment. Islington Council has suggested the benefit change has contributed towards a spike in food bank use, pointing to the 44 extra referrals in the first three months of it being introduced compared to the year before.

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Ms Arnold added: “Whilst the Government is well aware of the key factors that are driving so many local families into food poverty, they are choosing not to act. Instead, they are shamefully passing on their duty of care to most vulnerable in society onto charities and a beleaguered public sector.

“The future of so many young Londoners is being blighted by the inaction of Government. Malnutrition impacts on physical and social well-being and most importantly can affect the cognitive development of children.”

A Department of Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “Universal Credit simplifies an out-of-date, complex system with evidence showing the claimants are getting into work faster and staying in work longer.”