Benefit delays not to blame, says government
The government department responsible for welfare payments denied yesterday that delays in benefits were a principle cause behind food bank visits.
A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said processing times had improved over the last few years.
He said: "The Trussell Trust itself says it is opening three new food banks every week, so it's not surprising more people are using them. They also agree that awareness has helped to explain their recent growth.
"Contrary to what these organisations are suggesting, benefit processing times have steadily improved over the past few years. This year the number of benefits processed on time is up four percentage points from the 2009/10 level to 90%.
"The benefits system supports millions of people who are on low incomes or unemployed and there is no evidence that welfare reforms are linked to increased use of food banks.
"In fact, our welfare reforms will improve the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities with the Universal Credit making three million households better off – the majority of these from the bottom two fifths of the income scale."
The spokesman said claimants can ask for a Short Term Benefit Advance. An STBA can be applied for either at the Jobcentre, or via the telephone to a benefit delivery centre.
The spokesman said: "Customers receive an outcome to their request within three hours via telephone. If we are unable to contact the customer by phone, the outcome is confirmed in writing."