UK food banks arrange for stop payments on COVID-19, higher gas prices, coming winter

Charity banks in Britain are “preparing for the worst case scenario” as the government begins rolling out emergency aid put in place to curb the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on millions of workers and low-income households. we.

The extra weekly payment of 20 pounds ($ 37.30) to support the country’s poorest families will be killed next month, and more than a million workers face an uncertain future as Britain became the earliest large economy to stop the COVID-19 employment support scheme.

Food banks – which distribute basic commodities, from dried pasta to baby food – are particularly worried about losing the top -up in Universal Credit (UC) benefit, which nearly 6 million people, according to official statistics.

“You’re going to have parents without food to feed their children,” said Garry Lemon, director of policy and research at the Trussell Trust, which supports more than 1,200 food bank centers across Britain.

Food banks said they faced food shortages, reductions in donations during the pandemic and increased demand.(

AFP: David Cliff / NurPhoto / Photo file

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The British move began with the start of other countries ’state aid programs announced last year when COVID-19 hit economies around the world.

In the United States, pandemic unemployment benefits ended in early September, a month after a respite from housing evictions expired.

Australia and Canada have also announced plans to end income subsidies in the near future.

A British government spokesman said the benefit had always been intended to be temporary and effective, adding that its focus now was on helping people get back to work.

‘The only charge you can change is your food charge’

However, anti-poverty groups said the loss of benefits would affect a heavy blow to low-income British.

It also comes as rising gas prices bring higher domestic energy charges, with the average household expected to pay 139 pounds ($ 259.50) more per year.

He said his family was behind paying the bills because of the financial stresses from the pandemic and the reduction in benefits was hard to reach them.

“One bill you can change each week is your food bill,” said Emma, ​​who shares her experience with the Covid Realities research project that tracks the impact of the pandemic on parents and caregivers. taking care of low income.

Emma said she went to a food bank every few months, aiming to minimize visits so as not to leave anyone in a worse position.

“It’s going to be more regular [now], it makes me very angry because it’s something we didn’t think we had to do, ”Emma said.

Choosing between food and heat

Nationwide, more than 800,000 people will be pushed into poverty by the benefit cut, according to the British think-tank, the Legatum Institute.

A survey of more than 2000 people conducted for the Trussell Trust found a fifth of benefit claimants said it was “likely” that they would have to skip meals once the bonus payment was earned.

A similar number said they would struggle to heat their homes.

“Independent food banks are preparing themselves for an increase in demand as well as the challenges of food shortages and reduced donations,” said Sabine Goodwin, coordinator of the Independent Food Aid Network .

At Moray Food Plus, a food bank in Scotland, Mairi McCallum said they were already running “at almost full capacity”.

“There’s just a lot more we can do,” he said.

At an East London food bank – where a stream of visitors came to pick up bags of essentials in the store’s closet – organizers had to limit the total number of visits to 12 per household.

“We’re always getting new clients,” said Jemima Hindmarch, a spokesperson for The Bow Foodbank, who added that they “continue” to worry about having adequate supplies.

The impact of benefit cuts and increasing heating costs in the winter months is likely to be “catastrophic” for people struggling to cope, he said.

Reuters

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