Salford Foodbank says demand has rocketed after the recent roll-out of universal credit in the area.

Universal Credit, which is being introduced area by area over several years, is beiing blamed everywhere for making financial insecurity and food poverty worse.

Manager Mark Whittingon, 44, who has worked at Salford Foodbank since 2012, says he is expecting this Christmas to be his busiest so far.

He said: “We gave out 5,000 emergency food parcels last year and we expect that to be exceeded this year.”

Many people have taken to Twitter to voice their concerns, calling it #SalfordPoverty

Salford Foodbank runs on a referral basis and works in partnership with 100 different agencies across Salford, including GPs, mental health services, housing associations and schools, to provide a minimum of three-day emergency food supplies to people in need.

The foodbank is one of 400 run by the Trussell Trust, a nationwide organisation which gave out a total of 160,000 emergency food packages in just December last year. #TrusselTrust

Mr Whittington said: “We get people who haven’t eaten for a few days who come here.”

In March this year, Salford Council made a £75,000 investment into a new plan to tackle hunger in the region, however, foodbank usage in universal credit areas is now reported to be four times higher than in areas on the old system, which suggests that this has had little impact.

Two additional foodbanks in Eccles and Irlam and Cadishead also opened last year to cope with the demand.

One of the biggest concerns of Universal Credit are the long transferal periods for people moving onto the full service.

Some 3,700 people in Salford who are currently on Universal Credit Live have recently been told that they must transfer to the full service within four weeks rather than the normal 13 week transition period.

This has caused many concerns that people aren’t going to be able to transfer in time and will be out of pocket for Christmas. #UniversalCredit

Mark said: “Waiting five weeks before getting your first payment is crippling for people”.

He added: “We get families who come here struggling to put food on the table”.

Trussell Trust foodbanks have seen an average increase of 30% in demand, however, but the Department for Work and Pensions say universal credit will boost employment by 250,000 when it is fully rolled out.

Mark said: “In principle changing the benefit system is not a bad idea, it’s how it’s been implemented, thought through and rolled out”.

He added “I think the whole system needs looking at carefully and for advice to be listened to by the different agencies and individuals concerned about what the best way moving forward is”.

By 2023, Universal Credit will be extended to 2.1 million families across the UK and there is a lot to suggest foodbank use will continue to climb. #SolveUKPoverty

Salford foodbank relies heavily on donations from the community.

Donations can be made directly to the foodbank from 9am-5pm Monday to Friday.

Directions can be found below.

Drop off donations are also welcomed at a number of food donation points across Salford.

Further information on Salford foodbank can be found here

Listen to a snippet of the interview with Mark here:

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