Foodbanks could be “swamped” by Universal Credit chaos

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Implementation of UC will start in Aberdeen on Wednesday, and a charity is concerned it will lead to a stampede for its services

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30th October 2018 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

A foodbank provider is worried about its services being swamped by desperate people who have been moved onto Universal Credit (UC).

Full implementation of UC will start in Aberdeen on Wednesday, and a charity is concerned it will lead to a stampede for its services.

UC replaces six existing benefits with one – but trials have showed it is hurting the people it is supposed to help, with problems including a six week waiting period between claim and payment, and the fact that it’s online only limiting access.

It is being implemented in different areas and at different rates across the country.

Aberdeen-based Community Food Initiatives North East (CFINE) operates one of the city’s largest foodbanks and provides supplies to 180 other emergency food outlets across the region.

Chief executive Dave Simmers said he is anxious about what lies ahead – as there have been reports in other areas of foodbanks being swamped when UC bites.

He said: "We're anxious in particular for people who are being put onto this benefit.

"But also for organisations like ours that support people going onto Universal Credit, we are very anxious about our ability to provide the food and other support that we anticipate people will need.

"The experience throughout the country is Universal Credit leads to, for example, an increase in foodbank usage.

"So we anticipate regrettably a significant increase, and our concern is how on earth do we manage to support people."

He said that his organisation – which has already almost run out of food three times this year before the advent of UC – could face an agonising choice between providing for their own or others’ foodbanks.

Simmers said: "We'll be faced with issues about do we supply other foodbanks, or do we keep it for our foodbank?

"Really, really difficult decisions. Not things I want to do but we might be faced with that. It's a scary time ahead for us all."

The Department for Work and Pensions had said the reasons why people used foodbanks are complex, so it is wrong to link a rise to any one cause.