Emergency Use Only. Understanding and reducing the use of food banks in the UK was published in November 2014 by The Child Poverty Action Group, Church of England, Oxfam GB and The Trussell Trust.
Key findings from the research showed:
- Food banks were predominantly a last-resort, short-term measure, prompted by an ‘acute income crisis’ – something which had happened to completely stop or dramatically reduce their income
- Income crisis could be caused by sudden loss of earnings, change in family circumstances or housing problems. However, for between half and two thirds of the users from whom additional data was collected, the immediate trigger for food bank use was linked to problems with benefits (including waiting for benefits to be paid, sanctions, problems with ESA) or missing tax credits
- Many food bank users were also not made aware of the various crisis payments available in different circumstances, and even fewer were receiving them
- 19-28% of users for whom additional data was collected had recently had household benefits stopped or reduced because of a sanction and 28-34% were waiting for a benefit claim which had not been decided
- Many food bank users faced multiple challenges, including ill-health, relationship breakdown, mental health problems or substantial caring responsibilities. Many were unable to work or had recently lost their job. The frequency of bereavement among food bank users was also a striking feature of this research