Graphic: Demand for foodbank help on the increase in Norfolk and Suffolk
09:57 01 March 2014
Demand for foodbanks has showed no signs of easing with figures showing the numbers seeking help continuing to rise.
Norwich Foodbank provided three days of food for 932 people in January – its biggest month after December – with almost 9,000 people seeking help last year.
The most recent figures which give the overall picture for Trussell Trust foodbanks in each Eastern region county show that almost as many people in Norfolk and Suffolk visited foodbanks between April and September as in the whole of the previous year.
Foodbank project co-ordinator Grant Habershon said the number of families using foodbanks had increased and there was a large number of people, both working and not working, who had problems with benefits.
“Benefits took longer to come through than they did two years ago. That is a big issue that we have taken up with [MPs] Chloe Smith and Simon Wright,” he added.
But he also said the increased figures was down to the establishment of more foodbanks, with the publicity surrounding the movement taking away the stigma.
He said the biggest change the government could make was to get benefits system sorted out so people were paid on time.
The Trussell Trust county figures were prepared for Eastern Euro MP Richard Howitt who wants the government to claim cash from the European Union to help people suffering extreme poverty.
A fund was backed in a vote at the European Parliament this week, but the government is unliklely to accept it, saying food aid was better decided nationally rather than by Brussels.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) says that taking the funding would mean other schemes missed out, and stressed that Britain was not losing the cash.
Norwich North candidate Jessica Asato said: “It is shocking that the Conservatives and UKIP in the European Parliament have teamed up to vote against the UK receiving an additional £22 million of funding to help foodbanks in our country.”
Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham, who visited a foodbank yesterday, said he would talk to the regional director of Jobcentre Plus about the delays.
“The Jobcentre Plus does appear to be well run, staff have a can-do attitude and give people hope,” he said.
“However I think that the amount of benefit delays there are, it is not acceptable. There is no excuse. There should be only short period of time.”
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