George Osborne’s planned cuts to tax credits could result in a “substantial rise” in the number of people turning to foodbanks, it has been reported today.
Trussell Trust handed out 506,369 food parcels between April to September of this year, compared to 492,641 during the same period in the previous year. Each parcel includes three-days-worth of food.
The shocking figure equates to more than 4.5million meals for some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in society, including nearly 200,000 children.
It’s important to note that the figures above only account for Trussell Trust food banks and do not include other charities or food bank providers.
The charity is concerned that more working people could become reliant on emergency food parcels, as £4.4bn in tax credit cuts eat in to their vital income from next April.
Trussell Trust director Adrian Curtis warned of “worryingly high levels” of food bank use, and that “hunger remains a major issue for low-income families and individuals”.
Mr Curtis told the Daily Mirror: “When the proposed changes to tax credits are implemented, we are concerned that more working families will not be able to make ends meet, and that we could see a substantial rise in foodbank use.”
Responding to the damning figures, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Owen Smith said:
“Any government with an ounce of decency would see these figures, wake up to the scale of their failure and change course, especially as nearly 200,000 children were fed by foodbanks over the last six months.”
It has been reported that the Chancellor will target housing benefit to pay for a partial climb down on tax credit changes, with the exact details set to be announced in the Autumn Spending Review on 25 November.
In order to receive a food parcel, people need to be referred to foodbanks by a professional – such as their GP, police and social workers.
Osborne continues to face stiff resistance from within his own party, with Conservative rebel Stephen McPartland claiming that the majority of Tory MPs are now opposed to tax credit cuts, as currently proposed.
He added: “The simple fact is that for those families on very low incomes, these changes will hurt them not help them.”
Mr McPartland also revealed figures obtained from the House of Commons Library, showing that around 800,000 people claiming child tax credit would also be affected.
“The Chancellor now has to come forward with measures not only to mitigate the effects of the changes to tax credits, but to guarantee to protect families’ child tax credits”.
The government recently suffered a humiliating defeat in the House of Lords, after peers voted to force a rethink of the policy and delay the changes.
However, it is believed that George Osborne will continue to press ahead with the changes, while introducing more mitigating measures to supposedly “soften” the blow on working people.
Tax Credit Cuts Will Hit The Poorest Regions Hardest
A study by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has found that tax credit cuts will hit the poorest regions of the UK the hardest, with around 91% of homes left worse off.
Families living in Yorkshire and the North East are set to lose £1,400 year, while already enduring the lowest average wage in Britain of £15,252 and £14,927 respectively.
Other low-income regions who will be hit hard by cuts to tax credits include Wales (£1,390), the North West and Scotland (£1,370), West Midlands (£1,340) and East Midlands (£1,300).
Despite having the highest average annual incomes in the UK of £22,516, households in London will be the least affected by Osborne’s tax credit cuts, losing out on £1,110 a year – still a lot of money, however.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This research makes clear that as well as making families suffer, the tax credit cuts will make regional inequalities worse.
“The Prime Minister and the Chancellor seem to be the last people in Britain who still think the tax credit cuts are a good idea.”
Gillian Guy, chief executive of the Citizens Advice Bureau, said: “Ministers need to look carefully at their plans to change tax credits to ensure people aren’t driven into debt, have plenty of time to plan their finances and are given help.”