Report on distribution of food parcels from Citizens Advice Ash in 2018
Citizens Advice Ash (CA Ash) holds a supply of food boxes in the bureau. These food boxes are supplied by the Trussell Trust and are for local people who are unable to travel to Farnham, the main distribution centre for the Trussell Trust.
Clients may be referred to CA Ash for a food parcel by a third party, for example, Social Workers or Family Liaison Officers, or clients may come directly to the bureau. All clients who come for a food parcel are interviewed by an adviser so that the underlying reason for the need for a food parcel can be looked at – for example, if someone’s benefit has been stopped, the bureau may be able to help with finding out why the benefit has ceased and so address what needs to be done to reinstate it.
How many food boxes were issued in 2018:
During 2018 (January to December), we gave out 90 food boxes – 35 were to single people without dependants, and 55 were to families. Families may comprise a couple without children, or a couple with children, or a single parent with children. Overall, 125 adults were helped, and 91 children benefitted from the parcels.
Reasons for needing a food box:
One of the main reasons for the issue of food boxes is problems with benefits – benefit changes and/or benefit delays account for nearly half of the boxes issued. This has been a consistent feature over the past 3 years.
Low income, and debt, score highly in the secondary reasons recorded in 2018 – this reflects that these are likely to be behind the issue of most, if not all, food boxes.
A recurring feature, linked to low overall income, is unexpected additional expense – there simply isn’t the money to cover these + the normal household expenditure, leaving little money left for food. Examples include the cost of school uniform, or shoes for children, or paying for travel costs to hospital to see sick relatives.
Demographics of food box users:
Age: The majority of food box users are in the age group 25-64. A few are in the age band 17-24, People aged 65+ don’t often come for a food box.
Health: Ill health features highly – many clients have long-term health issues, or have family members with health problems. Many clients receive a sickness benefit such as Employment Support Allowance, or a disability benefit such as Personal Independence Payment.
Work: Although most food bank users are of working age, not many are in full time work – this is mainly due to the underlying ill health of many recipients. Those who are in work are typically in low paid jobs. Some are on zero hours contracts, which means that income each week or month is never certain and makes budgeting very difficult.
Housing: Most are in rented accommodation.
Food boxes continue to be a necessary “fall back” for clients visiting CA Ash. Nationally, the introduction of Universal Credit has led to an increase in the use of food boxes. Universal Credit came to Ash (and Surrey) at the end of 2018, and we will monitor the impact this has on food bank use during 2019.