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The Trussell Trust has called on ministers to reduce the minimum 42-day waiting time for the first universal credit (UC) payment as food banks say they will struggle with soaring need over Christmas.

As the UK’s biggest food bank network, Trussell describes said demand for its parcels in areas where full service UC operates had increased by an average of 30% since April – compared with 12% in sample areas not yet covered by the new benefit system.

Releasing its mid-year figures, the trust said UC waits, reduced disability entitlements, the freeze on benefit increases and low pay had driven up referrals to its food banks by 13%, putting it on course to deliver record levels of food aid this year.

The trust, whose 428 food bank centres have given out 587,000 three-day emergency food packages since April, called on ministers to take urgent action to reduce the minimum 42-day waiting time for a first UC payment.

“The simple truth is that even with the enormous generosity of our donors and volunteers, we’re concerned food banks could struggle to meet demand this winter if critical changes to benefit delivery aren’t made now,” said Mark Ward, Trussell’s interim chief executive.

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source: 24 Housing
published: 7 November 2017