Demand for foodbanks in Yorkshire is rising sharply, with nearly 70,000 emergency packages handed out in the region over the last 12 months.
The number of three-day emergency food supplies given to people in crisis across Yorkshire and the Humber rose by more than six per cent from 65,059 in 2015/16 to 69,280 during the last financial year, which ended on March 31.
More than a third (24,542) of those emergency supplies were for children living on the breadline, a report published today by the anti-poverty charity Trussell Trust shows.
Across the UK, more than 1,182,000 emergency supplies were handed out - including 436,000 to children - an overall increase of seven per cent from 2015/16.
The charity says the increase in demand has been greatest in areas where Universal Credit - which replaces a range of other welfare benefits - has been fully rolled out.
They have seen a 16.85 per cent average increase in referrals for emergency food, compared with the national average of 6.64 per cent.
The trust says many people are waiting six or more weeks to receive their first Universal Credit payment, pushing them into debt and leading to evictions. It claims people in insecure or seasonal work are particularly badly affected by the new system.
David McAuley, the charity's chief executive, said: "The move to simplify an often complex welfare system is a welcome one but any large reform can have unforeseen consequences.
"Foodbanks see first-hand how changes to the welfare system affect people on the ground, and so can offer an early warning to decision-makers.
"We are sharing our early observations with the Department for Work and Pensions to ensure any adverse side effects Universal Credit can have on people are addressed before full rollout is completed.
"We have been heartened by secretary of state Damian Green’s willingness to engage, his department’s work to pilot improvements, and the recent changes to the Universal Credit taper rate which mean people moving into work will keep more of their earnings.
"We hope our insights can inform efforts to make sure the values on which Universal Credit is built are delivered in practice. To stop UK hunger we must make sure the welfare system really does work for everyone."
To donate to the Trussell Trust, or for more information on supporting a local foodbank, visit www.trusselltrust.org.
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