Commenting on statistics released by the Trussell Trust showing a rise in referrals to its food banks in areas where Universal Credit has been running, Wolverhampton North East MP Emma Reynolds said:

“It is unacceptable that the Trussell Trust has found such large increases in referrals to its food banks, and it says that there is a higher demand in places where the migration to Universal Credit has started.

“In areas where Universal Credit has been running for at least a year, foodbanks in the Trussell Trust’s network have seen a 30 per cent rise in demand. In areas with the new system for at least 18 months the rise was higher at 40 per cent, and the rise was even higher at 48 per cent for foodbanks in areas with Universal Credit was running for at least two years.

“Every week I have complaints from constituents about Universal Credit, and these often relate to severe delays before getting a payment under the new system. Universal Credit affects people both in and out of work and it is frankly unfair to make people wait for weeks or months on end with no support. During these weeks, rent still needs paying, food still needs to be put on the table, and the heating bills still need to be paid.

“Wolverhampton Homes has 3,000 tenants on Universal Credit, 64 per cent of whom are in arrears. Now the Trussell Trust has found that Universal Credit is an underlying cause of their 30 per cent increase in demand.

“The Government has its head in the sand about the issues around Universal Credit. I have raised concerns about Universal Credit in Parliament and have raised specific cases with government ministers. I will continue to call for changes to the system so people in Wolverhampton are able to feed their families.”