Heating the home or feeding the children - the stark choice facing many Waveney families numbers relying on foodbanks rise 17 per cent
- Credit: Archant © 2012
More working families are being forced to rely to foodbanks, volunteers have warned – after seeing a 17pc rise in the number of people asking for emergency help.
The 58pc growth in the number of families requesting crisis support means several parents are forced to make a stark choice between feeding their children and keeping them warm. In some cases, volunteers have said mums and dads have sacrificed daily meals so they can save a bit of money to try and buy their children a special Christmas present.
Phil Riley, project manager at East Suffolk Foodbank, said new caps limiting the benefits households receive 'can cause an enormous change in family circumstances'.
He added that for some families, it meant being £500 per month worse off. 'Wherever you are, that's a big chunk of money each month to be disappearing,' he said.
'We're finding it's affecting those with families more. Those with children are being affected more severely by the benefit cap than those with a lower amount of benefits.'
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The number of people helped by the East Suffolk Foodbank – which covers Waveney, Wickham Market, Framlingham and Aldeburgh – has risen from 2,304 from April to December last year to 2,692 during the same period in 2016. Of those, 52pc are aged 25 or under. The biggest reason for referrals to the foodbank is a delay in paying benefits. That has been particularly the case this year, with many people changing over to the new Universal Credit system.
The second biggest reason, Mr Riley said, is low income – and contrary to some people's perceptions, many of those affected are in work. 'Often there's someone employed in the household but the salary plus the benefits is not enough to keep them going,' he explained.
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'We're finding ourselves dealing with an increase of people who are struggling but are actually workers.'