Five-Week Wait For Benefits Will Increase Food Bank Use, Says TUC

A Trussell Trust food bank.

New benefit rules forcing claimants to wait at least five weeks before they receive any cash will increase demand on food banks, says the TUC.

Under current rules new claimants have to wait an average of two weeks before they receive their first benefit payment. But with the introduction of Universal Credit new claimants will not be eligible for any financial support during the first week of their claim, and will then have to wait a further month before any benefits are paid.

The warning comes in response to a cross-party inquiry into hunger and child poverty, which found that delays in benefit payments is one of primary reasons for soaring numbers of food bank users.

In the last year the food bank charity Trussell Trust helped more than 900,000 people with three-days worth of emergency food aid, with some experts suggesting the true extent of food poverty in the UK could be in the millions.

The new five-week wait for benefits will not only affect people who are unfortunate enough to be made redundant, but also anyone who is unable to continue working due to ill-health or disability – regardless of how long they’ve been in work or how much they’ve paid in National Insurance contributions.

A recent TUC poll found that 70% of people are worried about having to wait five weeks for benefits if they were to become unemployed.

TUC launched the ‘Saving Our Safety Net’ campaign earlier this year, which seeks to challenge the new rule and other benefit changes that undermine the social security system we all pay in to and could need at any moment.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The government is introducing what amounts to a ‘food banks first’ policy for anyone who loses their job or becomes too sick or disabled to work.

“It’s unrealistic and unfair to make new claimants wait five weeks or more before they receive any cash.

“While it is right to deal with people who abuse the system, ministers are now undermining the social security safety net that any of us might need.

“The government’s welfare reforms are attacking people who have done nothing wrong at a time when they most need help.”

The DWP is sending new guidance to 700 job centres, informing them that they must make claimants aware of ‘short-term cash advances’ which may be available while their claim is processed.

Responding to the announcement, Labour MP Frank Field said: “It is vital both that emergency payments are made available and that they are actively publicised to prevent the need for using a food bank.”

He added the Government should take action to “limit the amount of time it takes to process a claim”.

Only a small number of people will be eligible for emergency support while they wait for the first benefit payment to come through, say the TUC.



  1. This is disgusting! and yet ppl still vote for those WM snobs who say the poor cant cook! we can’t cook if we have no benefits to buy food you moron.

  2. The system is a farce John Prescott recently said that our NI contributions are ring fenced for NHS and Welfare. There is 30 billion in that fence just sitting there. Yet there are 3 billion more cuts in the pipeline in tax credits in the next parliament. My local authority have warned that next year there will be more cuts to the under fives youth disabled and elderly care. There is, however, 11 million for new offices money to ‘toure de france type’ and a million other things

  3. Remember folks If you are not getting benefits they expect you to humiliate yourself and turn to food banks rather then riot or turn to crime to fund yourself until you get a giro.
    I used crime to get me off the streets at 19 years of age as the council refused to help me. Crime really does pay ask your local drug dealer or hardened criminal. they do not need to use food banks and are not effected by welfare reform, what’s the worst they can do if your caught. send you to prison, which in turn costs the country 30 times the amount of missing benefits. least you have a roof over your head, warm bed to sleep in and hot food 3 times a day and in there they pay you for work unlike outside and stuck on a work fare program which is slavery by another name.

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