According to the Trussell Trust, foodbank usage has increased by 17% in the last 12 months with Universal Credit being a major factor. We are seeing this reflected across the foodbanks in Brighton and Hove where we provide debt and benefit advice.
A couple of our outreach workers provide advice and support on a regular basis at City Mission Basics Bank, Whitehawk Foodbank, Bevendean Foodbank and Hangleton Foodbank. Nick, one of our advisers, explained why it’s valuable for Money Advice Plus to work alongside foodbanks.
“Foodbanks deal with the immediate need for basic necessities like food. We then try and unpick the underlying reasons why people are using the foodbanks, for example, debt issues and delays in, or the termination of benefit payments.”
With Universal Credit now fully rolled out across Brighton and Hove, we are seeing people who need help to negotiate the online claiming process and to make sure they can access advance payments.
Sanctions are an issue – it’s not unheard of for a client’s Universal Credit to be reduced to less than £10.00pm due to a sanction imposed upon them for missing an appointment.
Not everyone at the foodbank has a complex problem; some people are just seeking a bit of reassurance about how to complete a form or what a letter means, and we are there to help with this too.
Doug, who runs Whitehawk Foodbank, explains why having an adviser in place is so important to the Foodbank,
“Provision of benefit advice is an invaluable part of what we offer and who we are… it makes absolute sense that we provide people with access to the agencies who can give additional support around benefits. 40% of our referrals are caused by benefit delays – this further enforces the vital service that benefit advice brings.”