THE use of food banks in York surged by more than 25 per cent last year, a landmark report has revealed.

The York human rights indicator report says that a ‘significant proportion’ of referrals to the city's food banks related to benefit problems.

The news comes after work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd admitted earlier this week that there was a link between the national increased use of food banks and problems in rolling out Universal Credit.

She said there were challenges with the initial roll-out of the benefit and the difficulty in accessing money was one of the causes of the rise in food bank use, but said the Government had made changes to help tackle food insecurity.

The York report said that according to The Trussell Trust, which runs food banks, referrals in York went up by more than a quarter in 2018 - "with a significant proportion of referrals relating to benefit changes, delays or sanctions".

It says: "Although this tells us that food poverty and insecurity are increasing, it doesn’t give the true scale of the problem. These figures don’t include independent foodbank projects in the city (e.g. through community centres), and there is no comprehensive data on numbers of people using free or pay-as-you-feel meals.

"The Independent Food Aid Network estimates that the Trussell Trust accounts for around half of the nation’s foodbank use, and the York Food Poverty Alliance is working on other ways to measure food poverty in the city."

The report, produced by the York: Human Rights City network, also says that the earnings gap - which measures the difference in weekly wages between those earning median (mid-point) wages and those on low wages - rose slightly last year, because earnings grew more at the median level than for lower wages.

It said York’s mid-point earnings continued to be lower than the UK mid-point earnings, but higher than those in surrounding areas.

It said housing costs pushed families with children into poverty but even so, more than one in 10 of York’s children lived in poverty before housing costs were considered.

Other findings in the report include:

>>> How rough sleepers in York say they have been attacked and urinated on 

>>>York's life expectancy area by area

>>>How a lack of pitches is affecting the mental health of travellers

The report can be downloaded here  

For more information about York being the UK's first human rights city: