THE manager of Swindon Foodbank has urged the government to take action as a new report claimed poor families could be worse off in the future as living costs exceed crucial welfare increases.
The End Child Poverty coalition has warned that families could be up to £2,800 a year worse off by 2020.
As a result, they say that child poverty rates will rise significantly in coming years
Cher Smith, project manager at the Swindon Foodbank said the charity had seen an increase in families needing their services.
“I’m not surprised in the slightest. People are finding it harder and harder to survive on the money they get.
“People are just getting by but they are having to make the choice between paying the bills and keeping a roof over their heads or putting food on the table for their children, which no-one should have to do.”
In 2016, the Swindon Foodbank provided food packages for 4,000 people, 1,600 of which were children
“It has been a busy start to the year and there is no quick solution to the problem. Any family can carefully budget then be thrown off by an unexpected expense, like a boiler breaking down, or having to buy school uniforms.
“I’d like to see the government place more of an emphasis on things like holiday lunch clubs so they can ensure children are fed well during the holidays. Child benefits should also increase,
According to the Feeling the Pinch report, a typical single unemployed parents receives around £198 a week before housing in April 2010.
To keep up with increased living costs, the payments such as child benefits, would need to reach around £267 a week by 2020- but are only expected to hit £214
Its report found struggling families found it harder to make ends meet because they are being hit by a poverty premium that leaves them paying more for goods and services.
Coun Russell Holland, deputy leader and cabinet member for finance, said: “It’s really important to keep in mind that many people on benefits work but are on low incomes and many more would like to work but can’t because of medical needs, caring responsibilities or because they struggle to find a job.
“As a council we are doing everything we can to support people in need by helping them with Council Tax, promoting credit unions and working more closely with the voluntary sector. There are many excellent organisations across Swindon such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and Christians Against Poverty who are ready to help with budgeting and debt management.”
Sam Royston, chair of the End Child Poverty coalition, said: “Families living in poverty are trapped between frozen support, rising costs of living, and a hefty poverty premium which means that they pay the most for basic essentials.
“End Child Poverty members know all too well the impact this poverty trap has on children’s lives. Too often, families are facing impossible choices between feeding their children and heating their home.
“The Government needs to take action now, to lift the four-year freeze on children’s benefits, and to ensure that the highest prices for family essentials aren’t paid by those who can least afford them.”
To find out more visit swindon.gov.uk under the heading of Benefits and Swindon Money Matters or for information on how to donate visit swindonfoodbank.co.uk