FOODBANK bosses have labelled the Chancellor’s Spring Statement as a ‘missed opportunity’ to bring benefits in line with the ‘soaring’ cost of living.
While the Lowesmoor lifeline welcomed the cut in fuel duty and the doubling of the Household Support Forum to £1billion, manager Grahame Lucas said the measures didn’t go far enough ahead of a ‘tidal wave’ of rising bills from April 1.
Referrals to foodbank have climbed to record levels in recent months and during February Worcester Foodbank volunteers fed 876 people – up nearly 10 per cent on the same month last year.
“Pressure on low-income households is at boiling point but they remain exposed to April’s wave of bill rises – and that risks turning the cost of living crisis into an emergency,” Mr Lucas said.
“We take comfort from knowing our amazing supporters will continue to do all they can to help those in crisis and in the coming months we’ll need the community’s support more than ever,” he added.
Labour city and county councillor Lynn Denham responded with disappointment to Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s Spring Statement.
The party’s former parliamentary candidate in the 2019 General Election echoed the disappointment from foodbank chiefs over last Wednesday’s (March 23) ‘mini budget’
“Energy bills and food costs are rocketing up, and while any support is welcome, the measures announced by the Conservatives will do very little to mitigate the huge spike in costs that is coming,” she said.
“As far back as 2019, before Covid and before the cost-of-living crisis, 15 per cent of Worcester households were living in fuel poverty.
“With gas and power prices increasing so dramatically, more and more families will be forced to choose between heating and eating, and it’s not just job seekers who are affected.
“This is an avoidable tragedy; people will remember that before the Cameron government, the city of Worcester did not need a foodbank at all,” she added.