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Food Bank Provider Challenges Parties To Commit To Benefit Debt Reform

The UK's leading food bank charity is calling for benefit debt repayment reform as the number of people claiming Universal Credit and facing benefit deductions were over three times more likely to say that they were facing real financial problems than their peers.

Benefit deductions can occur when the department for work and pensions (DWP) gives people an advance on Universal Credit while claimants wait for their entitlements to arrive in bank accounts, which can take up to five weeks. The advance is then deducted from subsequent payments until the advance is paid off. 

However, polling of 1,370 adults by YouGov for leading food bank charity the Trussell Trust found 77 per cent of people claiming Universal Credit and experiencing deductions had run out of food in the last month and didn’t have enough money to buy more, compared to 48 per cent for people not facing deductions.

YouGov also found 62 per cent of people claiming Universal Credit and facing benefit deductions have skipped meals in the last three months to keep up with other essential costs compared to 36 per cent of people without deduction.

90 per cent of people claiming Universal Credit and facing benefit deductions have gone without an essential in the last six months, compared to 67 per cent of people who were not facing benefit deductions.

The Trussell Trust, which distributed its highest ever number of food bank parcels last year at over 3.1m, said on Wednesday there needs to be a reduction in the amount the government is able to deduct from Universal Credit entitlements in repayments.

Currently, the government can reduce up to 25 per cent of the standard allowance of Universal Credit in deductions, but the Trussell Trust has called for a protected minimum

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