The Trussel Trust has released the first foodbank-led qualitative survey, looking at the experience of people on Universal Credit (UC). The report, titled Left Behind: Is Universal Credit Truly Universal?, was released as part of their End of Year Stats and you can read it at https://www.trusselltrust.org/what-we-do/research-advocacy/universal-credit-and-foodbank-use/. The analysis in the report is based on a total of 284 responses and provides invaluable detail into the conditions which might lead someone on UC to need a Foodbank parcel.
Here are the top findings:
- The majority of respondents were waiting or had waited the intended weeks for their payment; however, this wait still had severe implications including:
- 70% of respondents found themselves in debt;
- 57% experienced issues with their mental or physical health; and
- 56% experienced housing issues.
- There was limited statutory support available during this wait:
- 63% were offered no help locally, while the most likely form of local help offered was a foodbank voucher; and
- DWP Advance payments were helpful for some, whilst half who provided detail said they were unhelpful, too little, or unaffordable to repay.
- Poor administration was a persistent concern:
- 35% had waited, or were waiting, longer than 6 weeks for their first payment;
- a third had experienced poor communication, and 30% had experienced underpayment; and
- most people who had Alternative Payment Arrangements really appreciated them but only 9% of respondents had been offered fortnightly payments.
- Only 8% of people said their UC award, when paid in full, covered their cost of living. For people with ill-health or disability, this proportion fell to just 5%.
Over the next few weeks the Trust will be going through the responses with a fine-toothed comb in order to produce a report specific to the Morecambe Bay Foodbank. They are also going to contact individuals to get more detail on their issues.
The Trussel Trust were able to take such in-depth insights to over 15 policymakers and political advisors in the DWP, who were engaging with the findings, were suggesting practical and policy solutions, and wanted more information from us.
This news helps to illustrate why Foodbanks, like the Morecambe Bay Foodbank, are providing a vital service for an increasing number of people. In order to continue doing so, we need your help. If you want to support us, you can donate food, money or your time. Find out more on the Give Help page. Thank you.