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Once relatively unheard of in the UK, the number of food banks has grown dramatically in recent years. The Trussell Trust, which runs the country's largest network of food banks, saw the number of food parcels it distributed increase from 61,500 in 2010-11 to 1.33m by 2017-18—a 21-fold increase.
The cause of this increase has been hotly debated, but evidence suggests that austerity and changes to social security have played a significant role.
Research - Housing - Situation - Food - Bank
Our new research explored the housing situation of food bank users across Britain for the first time. We found the vast majority are living in significantly difficult circumstances that are likely to contribute to their need for food bank support.
Housing support is one area of social security that has been particularly hard-hit by austerity. Changes to the local housing allowance have significantly reduced the amount of housing benefit private renters can receive, and introduced a penalty for "under-occupying" social housing, known as the bedroom tax.
Cap - Amount - Benefits - People - Impact
A cap on the amount of benefits people can receive has also had a significant impact on housing support. Housing and food are two household essentials, but where resources are scarce, spending on food is often more flexible than spending on housing. A recent survey by the housing charity Shelter found that 20% of low-income renter households had cut back on food in order to meet their housing costs. However, little is known about the housing situations of food bank users.
Our study used data from a survey of 598 Trussell Trust food bank users conducted between October 2016 and April 2017 in Britain. The results are stark. Over four-fifths of food bank users reported at least one significant housing problem including rent arrears, difficulty affording rent, poor housing conditions, or homelessness. Nearly 18% of users were homeless, and an additional 15% of respondents had slept...
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