THE ‘CRUEL’ Universal Credit benefit system has been blamed for rocketing numbers of people using the foodbank in Stratford.
The new system, which has seen different financial support combined to form one single payment, is believed to be behind demand experienced by Stratford Foodbank.
The charity, which operates from a warehouse in Tesco car park in Birmingham Road, saw numbers more than double when the system was introduced in 2017.
And the foodbank, which supplies emergency three-day food parcels to those in need, has faced increasing pressure on its food stocks ever since.
In January it distributed some 350 food parcels, compared to some 190 in the same period last year.
The average number of children helped in a month is 27 per cent, but in January that figure rose to just over 40 per cent.
Green Party county councillor Jonathan Chilvers called the delayed system ‘scandalous’.
He said: “This recent and dramatic rise in foodbank use due to Universal Credit roll-out is a scandal. It’s a scandal that when people are moved from an old benefit to Universal Credit they are having to wait weeks with no money through no fault of their own.
“It is a scandal that people are being pushed into debt because of this cruel system. These waiting time rules are not difficult to fix. The Conservative government has been warned time and time again about the problems of Universal Credit but still persists with a setup that crushes people at a time they most need help in their lives.”
Citizens Advice Bureau South Warwickshire is one of several organisations which issues vouchers for food parcels to those in need.
A spokesperson confirmed an increase in those requesting the vouchers, either because their payments were delayed by the roll-out, or because of a dispute.
The organisation is launching a new service in April to support people making new Universal Credit claims.
Visit casouthwarwickshire.org.uk for advice and information.
Visit stratforduponavon.foodbank.org.uk for information on the foodbank.
Donations of tinned and packet food can be left in collection baskets at Tesco, Morrison’s, Waitrose, Budgens in Bidford, and at Holy Trinity Church.
The charity is in particular need of UHT juice and milk.