Dozens of celebrities join petition with anti-poverty charities
Co-written by anti-poverty charities the Trussell Trust and Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the letter calls for political leaders to make sure the basic rate of Universal Credit at least covers the cost of life’s essentials.
There’s currently a £35 weekly gap between the basic rate of Universal Credit and the cost of common essentials, with around five in six low-income households receiving it, many of whom are in work, going without at least one key requirement such as food, a warm home or toiletries.
This is forcing hundreds of thousands of people to turn to food banks, with a Trussell Trust food parcel now being distributed every eight seconds.
Also signed by Stephen Fry, Dame Emma Thompson and Liam Payne, the letter has been issued to leaders of all political parties, ahead of this year’s General Election to call for an ‘Essentials Guarantee’ to become legislation.
This would ensure that the basic rate of Universal Credit at least covers life's essentials and can never be pulled below that level.
The letter comes after statistics showed nearly three million emergency food parcels were provided by the Trussell Trust last year, and one in seven people in the UK face hunger due to a lack of money.
A need for change
The network of food banks is asking the public to back the campaign, and sign the accompanying petition.
Trussell Trust chief executive Emma Revie said: “We live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and yet people here in the UK are going without the essentials we all need to get by.
“We know that the public is deeply concerned about poverty and hunger. Research shows people overwhelmingly believe food banks should not be needed in the UK, and the vast majority say the UK government has an essential role to play in keeping people out of poverty.
“In a General Election year, it’s vital that all political parties listen to the public and show they understand so many people are experiencing hunger in this country, and action needs to be taken.
“The wide range of people coming together to sign the open letter reflects the nationwide consensus on this issue, and we collectively urge political leaders to do the right thing and include an Essentials Guarantee in their manifestos later this year.”