Bishops sign petition calling for urgent action on Universal Credit
The Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham has signed a national petition calling for action to be taken to provide more support for people applying for Universal Credit amid reports of a surge in demand at food banks in areas where the benefit has been introduced.
The Rt Revd Paul Williams signed the petition, alongside the Bishop of Sherwood, the Rt Revd Tony Porter, launched by the End Hunger UK campaign which is calling for the Government to make changes to Universal Credit, including providing more help and a more flexible system for claimants applying and for those already receiving the benefit.
The campaign is also calling for improvements to the design of Universal Credit and a long- term commitment to ensure the benefit provides people with an adequate income to afford good food on a regular basis.
Bishop Paul said: “I have signed the End Hunger UK petition, calling on the Government to continue a rigorous review assessing the impact ‘on the ground’ under Universal Credit. We need to ensure that we do not see an increase in those pushed into serious food poverty, especially in our cities at a time when local authority budgets are already stretched to the limits. I am thankful that many parishes and churchgoers across the diocese are engaged in practical action locally.”
In the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham there are eight Trussell Trust food banks working out of 23 distribution centres, which last year gave out 23,322 three-day emergency food parcels to people in crisis. There are also at least seven independent food banks.
The petition comes as The Trussell Trust reports a 52% increase in food bank use nationally, and 11% in Notts.
Transforming Notts Together, an organization which works to lift people out of poverty, is working closely with churches and church-based projects to raise awareness of the impact of the roll out of Universal Credit by delivering a workshop called Universal Credit Savvy. So far over 80 volunteers from Southwell & Nottingham have attended workshops.
The petition will be delivered to the Prime Minister in the lead-up to the Budget later this month.