A NEW report has revealed that South East England has seen a huge increases in food bank use, despite being the second wealthiest part of the UK after London.
The report, by Green Party member Keith Turner, was launched ahead of Parliamentary debate on food banks this week.
A food bank has been set up in Rye at the police station.
The report reveals that food bank use in his region is up by over 60% this year and that thousands of families will face the prospect of relying on emergency food handouts this Christmas.
A decade ago food banks were almost unheard of in South East England but there are now 59 across the region.
Keith Taylor said: “With spending pressures mounting at Christmas, and wages stagnating, more families than ever are expected to use food banks over the festive period.”
The report, which shows an explosion in the number of Food Banks in the last few years, details the reasons people are forced to seek emergency food handouts. 33% of people needing handouts are facing benefits delays, while 19% cite benefits changes as their reason for visiting the food banks and 18.5% point to low incomes as their reason for needing help.
Mr Taylor went on to say: “Food banks are a lifeline to those in need and, sadly, one of Britain’s booming industries.
“Across the South East demand for emergency food is soaring while people’s wages stagnate and the cost of living shoots up.
“This report reveals a shameful side of the British economy that the government is trying to hide. In the sixth largest economy in the world no-one should be relying on emergency food handouts at Christmas, it’s a national disgrace.
“The Government must release their report on food banks as soon as possible. It’s clear that we have a desperate situation in this country that needs addressing yet the Government seem to want to avoid changing direction.
“To address the food bank epidemic we need to see people paid decent wages and a social security system that doesn’t let people slip through the net into desperation.”
Chris Mould, the executive chairman of The Trussell Trust said: “The level of food poverty in the UK is not acceptable. It’s scandalous and it is causing deep distress to thousands of people.”