More than 11,000 emergency food parcels were given to desperate families in Southwark between April and September, new figures from Trussell Trust reveal.
Southwark London Assembly Member, and MP for Vauxhall, Florence Eshalomi, has warned that these numbers are “just the tip of the iceberg” with other charities and independent food banks seeing surging referrals and walk-ins. The figures show a 279 per cent increase compared with the same period in 2019.
The government has recently announced a £170 million national Covid winter grant scheme to help families throughout the next few months, sixteen million of which will go toward food banks – but it is unlikely to meet demand.
Labour has called on Boris Johnson’s government to scrap the five-week Universal Credit wait and increase statutory sick pay to be in line with the National Living Wage at £326 a week, to help plug this gap.
Among the government’s package of support for workers affected by the virus is the extension of the Coronavirus job retention scheme until March 2021, and a more generous self-employment income support scheme. But it has steadfastly refused to increase statutory sick pay.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that Londoners on low incomes are still being left to confront the dilemma of having to work when they should be isolating, or losing their pay and struggling to feed themselves and their families,” Eshalomi said.