Pressure On Cameron As Food Bank Use Soars
David Cameron has come under pressure to launch an inquiry into why people are turning to foodbanks as demand for emergency supplies continues to surge.
More than 350,000 people received a three-day food package from the Trussell Trust between April and September, three times as many as the same period last year.
It has written to the Prime Minister calling on him to look into the "scandalous" problem of food poverty, warning some food bank recipients are so poor they have returned produce that needs cooking because they cannot afford the electricity to heat it up.
Trussell Trust executive chairman Chris Mould said: "We said in April that the increasing numbers of people turning to food banks should be a wake-up call to the nation, but there has been no policy response and the situation is getting worse. The level of food poverty in the UK is not acceptable.
"It's scandalous and it is causing deep distress to thousands of people. The time has come for an official and in-depth inquiry into the causes of food poverty and the consequent rise in the usage of food banks."
Earlier this year, Chancellor George Osborne suggested food bank use had increased "because people have been made aware of the food bank service through local jobcentres".
But the Trust has echoed concerns that some households will have to choose between eating and heating this winter as they struggle to cope with the rising costs of food and energy.
It also highlights the impact of welfare reforms that came into force in April, reporting an increase in referrals as a result of the so-called "bedroom tax".
Mr Mould said: "We're talking about mums not eating for days because they've been sanctioned for seemingly illogical reasons, or people leaving hospital after a major operation to find that their benefits have been stopped or delayed."
Chris Johnes, Oxfam's UK poverty programme director, said: "These figures lay bare the shocking scale of destitution, hardship and hunger in the UK.
"It is completely unacceptable that in the seventh wealthiest nation on the planet, the number of people turning to food banks has tripled."
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady described the figures as "shocking".
A Government spokesman said: "The Trussell Trust itself says it is opening three new food banks every week, so it's not surprising more people are using them. They also agree that awareness has helped to explain their recent growth."