Ipswich food banks reopen and struggle to get supplies before benefit cut and furlough end

Gareth Brenland from the Bus Shelter Ipswich 

Gareth Brenland from foodbank and homelessness charity the Bus Shelter Ipswich is worried about the increased demand next month when the furlough scheme ends and universal credit is cut by £20 a week. - Credit: Pixabay/TIFFERS THE BUS SHELTER

Ipswich food banks have reopened a shop and are struggling to get supplies ahead of the cut to Universal Credit and the end of furlough in October. 

In addition to these "big" changes, Gareth Brenland from foodbank and homelessness charity the Bus Shelter Ipswich says at the end of next month families will have children at home without free school meals. 

Mr Brenland said: "I'm concerned. 

"That cut to Universal Credit affects me and is £80 a month. It will have a big impact on me. 

"Last month we did 49 food parcels but I'm expecting 100s. 

"Quite a few came through in the last few months I did not see coming and I can see that spiralling.

"It's a big effect on families, their mental health, paying rent and feeding their kids." 

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He also said it was difficult to prepare as bulk buying has been impacted by the lack of supply chain drivers so they cannot get the supplies. 

Mr Brenland added: "I don't envy anyone struggling.

"It will be a big change immediately and a choice between food and paying the bills."

Graham Denny, founder of BASIC Life Charity. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Graham Denny, founder of BASIC Life Charity. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Graham Denny, founder and administrator of the BASIC Life Charity, who runs Ipswich and Felixstowe charity stores where you can get all your shopping for £2, is preparing for the big change. 

"We've taken lots of provisions from Suffolk County Council," Mr Denny said. "We're quite aware of the challenges that are coming and how difficult that is going to be and I think we're ready for that."

To cope, he will reopen a Felixstowe shop while supporting hundreds of families. 

"The supermarkets have really helped," he added.

Tom Hunt

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt has rebelled against the government for a second time. - Credit: House of Commons

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt has also raised concerns to chancellor Rishi Sunak on not extending the £20 a week extra for Universal Credit, which was provided during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Mr Hunt said he did tell Mr Sunak he thinks the uplift should be permanent but pointed out the chancellor will have to make "difficult" decisions in light of the over £400 billion borrowed during the pandemic. 

Around 5,790 people in Ipswich were on out-of-work benefits as of mid-July, down 145 from 5,935 in mid-June.

He added he sympathises with his constituents who are facing these challenges but said he knows from talking to Ipswich business they need staff and have lots of vacancies.