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12,000 use emergency food banks in south
12:38pm Monday 16th December 2013 in News
MORE than 12,000 people have been forced to use food banks across the south this year, it emerged today.
A total of 9,671 in Hampshire and 2,755 in the Isle of Wight received emergency parcels between April and November.
Across the south-east there was a 60 per cent increase in calls on food banks compared to the same period in 2012.
Demands are expected to increase in the run-up to Christmas as families are pressured to make sure their children have something to look forward to over the festive season.
The figures are in a report, called Hungry Britain, published today by South East England Green MEP Keith Taylor.
It states that 33 per cent of people needed handouts because of delays to their benefits, 19 per cent because of benefit changes and 19 per cent because their income was too low.
With 13 food banks in the county, Hampshire has the most in the south-east.
Mr Taylor recently visited the Southampton Basics Bank, run by Southampton City Mission, which saw a rise of 49 per cent in people relying on them from April to November 2013 compared to the same period last year.
He said: “Food banks are a lifeline to those in need and, sadly, one of Britain’s booming industries. Across the south-east demand for emergency food is soaring while people’s wages stagnate and the cost of living shoots up. “This report reveals a shameful side of the British economy that the Govern-ment is trying to hide. In the sixth largest economy in the world no one should be relying on emergency food handouts at Christmas. It’s a national disgrace.”
Chris Mould, the executive chairman of The Trussell Trust, a charity that aims to empower local communities to combat poverty in the UK and Bulgaria, said: “The level of food poverty in the UK is not acceptable. “The time has come for an official and in-depth inquiry into the causes of food poverty and the consequent rise in the usage of food banks. “As a nation we need to accept that something is wrong and that we need to act now to stop hunger in the UK getting worse.”
The report was released ahead of a debate on food banks due to take place in Parliament this Thursday.
Conservative parliamentary candidate for Itchen Royston Smith said: “This Govern-ment is doing an enormous amount to make sure that people shouldn’t be dependent on foodbanks.
“We know that more people are using them, but the Government is doing everything it can to make sure that work pays and that people hopefully will not have to be reliant on them in the future.
“The Government has given 25 million people a tax cut, and 2.5 million no longer have to pay any tax at all, while caps on fuel costs and taking away green levies will ensure fuel bills aren’t as high as they might be.”
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