Foodbank use in Islington rises 20 per cent as council blames welfare reforms

Cllr Andy Hull, executive member for finance, performance and community safety. Photograph: Islington CouncilFood

The number of visits people made to foodbanks in Islington for emergency food parcels has increased by a fifth in the last year, according to new figures from the Trussell Trust.

The charity, which runs 400 foodbanks across the country, recorded 5,347 foodbank visits in Islington between April 2017 and April 2018, up by 895 – or 20 per cent – on the previous year’s 4,452.

This includes a rise in foodbank use for both adults and children, with the number of children visiting foodbanks up from 1,189 in 2016/17 to 1,356 in 2017/18.

The number of adults rose from 3,263 to 4,001 over the same period.

This places the council at 26th out of 42 London boroughs for the most visits to foodbanks in that financial year.

Cllr Andy Hull, Islington Council’s executive member for finance, performance and community safety, told the Islington Citizen that government welfare changes were to blame.

He said: “The government’s programme of so-called welfare reform since 2010 has seen Islington residents’ social security cut and cut, forcing people to turn to foodbanks and other charities for help.”

He added: “Ahead of the latest phase of the government’s rollout of Universal Credit, which starts here later this month, the council is gearing up to support individuals who are affected and to deal with the wider fallout.”

Across London 134,244 food parcels were given out over the same period, in a 21 per cent increase on the previous year.

Labour’s Jennette Arnold, who represents Islington on the London Assembly, released a statement calling the figures “shameful”.

“We live in one of the world’s wealthiest countries with a welfare state that is supposed to protect people from destitution”, she said.

“It is shameful that an increasing number of people are forced to rely on foodbanks.”

Arnold added: “The government should waste no time in doing all that it can to reverse this crisis blighting local families.”