Hopes for the next Senedd term – The Trussell Trust

Poverty A man at a food bank
ViewsApril 27th, 2021

Susan Lloyd Selby of The Trussell Trust calls on the next elected government to develop a plan to end the need for food banks and for post-pandemic Wales to be a place where no-one is forced to seek emergency food

On 6 May, voters in Wales will elect new Members of the Senedd Cymru/Welsh Parliament (SMs) for their communities and a new government for Wales. While ongoing Covid-19 restrictions mean fewer of us will have had aspiring MSs knocking our doors or leaflets thrown into our hands on the high street, these elections are an important turning point for Wales.

While the NHS and re-opening the economy remain top of the political agenda for many, it is a sobering fact that levels of poverty in Wales are stubbornly high. Even before the pandemic struck, almost 700,000 people – almost a quarter of the population- were already trapped in poverty. Right now in Wales, far too many children are growing up in poverty and we know that, since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, more people than ever have experienced destitution, unable to afford the essentials that we all need to eat, stay warm and dry, and keep clean.  That is why we are delighted to be a part of the Wales Anti-Poverty Coalition, calling alongside the Bevan Foundation for poverty to be a top priority of the next Welsh Government. In particular, we support the Coalition’s call for the next Government to commit to ensuring that no one in Wales should need to use a food bank.

Action on this front has never been more urgent. Last year, Trussell Trust food banks provided 146,000 emergency food parcels to people facing crisis- more than 54,000 of these went to children – that’s one parcel every 10 minutes on average. These figures mark an 8% increase on the year before and a 69% increase since 2015/16.

Worryingly, these figures are just the tip of the iceberg with unprecedented numbers of people being helped by other food aid providers and community-based groups that sprang up to provide emergency food during the pandemic.

Hunger in the Wales isn’t about food, it’s about people not having enough money for the basics and with high rates of unemployment and record redundancies, more people than ever need the social security system to provide a strong enough lifeline to stay afloat.

As Wales comes out of lockdown, we can do things differently. We have the chance to build a better, brighter future for our communities – one where people are not forced to seek emergency food and where everyone can afford the basics.

That is why in these elections, we are running a campaign calling on all Senedd candidates to commit to that goal of working to end the need for food banks if they are elected and for the newly elected Welsh Government to develop a plan to make this happen. We need a plan for change that:

  1. Ensures everyone is able to afford the basics. People are forced to charities for emergency food when there isn’t enough money for the essentials.  MSs should support a cash-first approach wherever possible, instead of relying on the distribution of emergency food. This means using your powers to improve the sufficiency, accessibility and responsiveness of benefits and cash-based crisis grants available in Wales, in particular the Discretionary Assistance Fund.
  2. Helps local and national services work together to ensure people get the right support at the right time. MSs should invest in the support services that help to address the underlying needs in their communities. They should also commit to helping local and national services work together, to provide support which maximises incomes and ensures people do not fall through the gaps.
  3. Involves people with direct experience of poverty and local food banks in shaping any plan to end the need for food banks. Members of the Senedd should work with people with direct experience of poverty in our community and work with food banks on how to deliver an ‘exit plan’ for ending the need for emergency food.

We are grateful to everyone who has pledged support for our campaign already, but we still have more to do. And that is why we are asking for your help to contact local candidates and ask them to pledgeto work to end the need for food banks.

It will only take a couple of minutes but with your support, we can ensure that ending the need for food banks in Wales is top of the agenda for those lucky enough to be elected to the Senedd next month. Ask your future MSs to make the pledge now.

And finally, if you haven’t already done so, you can make a difference by joining our campaign for a hunger free future.

Together, we can make change happen and end the need for food banks in Wales.

Susan Lloyd-Selby is Operations Manager Wales for The Trussell Trust

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