A food bank in Lewisham has called on the government to help people struggling to afford food because of rising living costs.
New figures released this week by the Office for National Statistics show that inflation is the highest it has been in 30 years, reaching seven percent in March.
More than 550 independent food banks have signed a letter to Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, written by The Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN), urging the government to increase payments for benefits in line with the new inflation figures.
The Legendary Community Club of Lewisham is one of the many food banks that have signed the letter to the Prime Minister and Chancellor.
According to Alexandra McMillan, founder and CEO of the Legendary Community Club, the group has already seen an increase in the number of people they support – and it is likely to continue to increase.
Alexandra said: “We expect huge increases in the need for our services and we are already struggling to get food to keep up with demand.
“Funding is getting smaller, we are overworked, underfunded, and the pressure is relentless.
“We’re at the breaking point.”
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation is a charity that conducts and funds research aimed at tackling poverty in the UK, and it says that this increase in inflation will equate to the largest cut in real-time benefits in fifty years.
Chris Birt, Associate Director at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “Our social security system is designed to provide financial support to people who need it most; the Chancellor has simply refused to use it.
“His lack of recognition of the seriousness of the situation will lead to more people being sucked into the kind of harsh daily hardships that are very difficult to escape.”
Chris also said he was concerned that the rapidly growing price of food, clothing, transportation and energy would leave people in “increasingly desperate situations.”
He added: “We hear about people who are unable to prepare the food they depend on from food banks as they cannot afford to turn on the oven or the hob.
“These terrible situations are not inevitable.”
In addition to an eight percent increase in unemployment benefits, the letter also calls for a five-week waiting period for university credit to be removed and for crisis payments to be made in cash to those who are serious.
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