According to research from UK Food Bank Charity Trussell Trust, 40% of people claiming Universal Credit are skipping meals to survive.
The charity has published a report highlighting the devastating impact the cost of living crisis is having on people across Britain and Merseyside.
The charity is urging new Prime Minister Liz Truss to address soaring living costs, which is leading to increased use of food banks.
The research, conducted in August, found more than two million people had skipped meals across the previous three months to keep up with other essential costs.
Worryingly, 38% of people said they’d gone a whole day with no food at all or just one meal in the last month because they couldn’t afford to buy enough food.
More and more people in Liverpool are turning to food banks too. With some centres reporting almost double the amount of visitors in recent weeks.
‘Cost of living crisis has started to hit really hard’
Nicola Hawkes, South Liverpool Food Banks Coordinator, said: “We see a lot of different stories. Sad stories, people who have come into crisis through no fault of their own.
“Obviously, the cost of living crisis has started to hit really hard. For example, in the last two weeks our centre in Speke, which has traditionally been one of the busiest anyway, they’ve started seeing much higher numbers. Typically they might see 12 families come to one of their sessions - and they have two sessions a week - both Tuesday last week and this week, they had 20 referrals coming in.
“These aren’t people necessarily that we’ve seen before, so we can see that people are starting to need us a lot more.”
The wider impact of cost of living crisis
The Trussell Trust research, in conjunction with a YouGov survey of of 1,846 people in receipt of Universal Credit, found the impact had gone far beyond being able to afford food items.
Almost a quarter of people surveyed (23%) have been unable to travel to work or essential appointments, such as the doctors or the school run in the last three months, because they couldn’t afford public transport, or fuel. A fifth (21%) of people said they didn’t cook hot food because they couldn’t afford to use the oven or other utilities.
Government urged to act
Ms Hawkes continued: "There's a lot of support out there for food banks, which is great, but it's just such a shame that we're needed in this day and age. Trussell Trust are campaigning for an end to the need for food banks. We really need whichever government it is to step up and make sure that benefits are fit for purpose."
Trussell Trust also revealed that food banks in its network provided 50% more parcels to people across the UK in recent months compared to before the pandemic. This means a parcel is provided to someone facing hardship every 13 seconds.
The Trussell Trust says it expects more and more people to be forced to access food banks unless the government takes immediate action to ensure the social security system provides people with enough support to afford the essentials.