Food banks ‘deeply concerned’ about donations drying up in winter amid soaring cost of living

The Trussell Trust has warned donations to food banks are dropping but demand is surging. (Fiona Dalgleish)

The UK's leading food bank charity has warned of a winter crisis as demand increases but donations drop off amid the worsening cost-of-living crisis.

Households across the UK are facing a cost of living nightmare this winter as high inflation and record breaking energy bills eat into household budgets.

Energy consultants Cornwall Insight on Tuesday said they expect the energy price cap to increase to £3,358 annually from October, rising again to £3,615 from January, resulting in an average of £3,487 this winter.

Elsewhere, inflation is already at its highest in 40 years – and expected to hit 11% by 2023.

Read more: UK living standards fall at record rate as inflation soars

The energy price cap is predicted to increase to £3,358 annually from October, rising to £3,615 from January, giving an average of £3,487 this winter (Yahoo News UK/Flourish)
The energy price cap is predicted to increase to £3,358 annually from October, rising to £3,615 from January, giving an average of £3,487 this winter. (Yahoo News UK/Flourish)

The Trussell Trust, the UK's leading food bank, has warned that growing pressure on household budgets is leading to fewer people donating supplies.

Alarmingly, this coincided with what the charity describes as "soaring need", with the organisation handing out what amounts to 13 food parcels per second in May.

Danni Malone, director of network programmes, told Yahoo News UK the organisation is concerned about supplies this winter.

"I think the thing that concerns us, as we look out across the winter, is that kind of unprecedented rise in demand coupled with a decrease in donations," said Malone.

She said Trussell Trust food banks are seeing customers who cannot afford heating, are unable to afford school uniforms for their children, and are even turning off their fridges to save energy.

"Things are definitely getting worse," she added.

In May, the government announced a £15bn energy bill support package in response to predictions energy bills would hit £2,800.

Watch: Why is everything more expensive and will prices rise?

Among the measures was £400 off energy bills for every household, and £650 for households on means-tested benefits.

The Trussell Trust said while the help was welcome, surging food bank demand demonstrates more support is necessary to avoid a rise in "destitution".

Read more: 'An energy company demanded I pay someone else's bill for months. It was frightening'

"We know that people with disabilities, single parent families, people with mental health issues are often [among those] over represented at our food banks, and are at particular risk of needing support from food banks," said Malone.

"But we are seeing already that some of our food banks, a good number of them, are reporting that they're seeing an increase in some people who are actually working."

Malone urged Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss to pledge more support – describing the Tory leadership contest as an "opportunity" to reform support available.

"We want to use this moment, as we're entering into the autumn... [to call on the] new prime minister coming into post... to take urgent action now," she added.

Inflation is at its highest levels in 40 years. (ONS CPI)
Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss taking part in the BBC Tory leadership debate live. Our Next Prime Minister, presented by Sophie Raworth, a head-to-head debate at Victoria Hall in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, between the Conservative party leadership candidates. Picture date: Monday July 25, 2022.
Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss are coming under pressure to announce measures to help Brits struggling with soaring energy bills. (PA)

The warnings come as the pair come under pressure to announce a new cost of living strategy.

Truss has said she would reverse the national insurance rise, and suspend the green levy on energy bills to help Brits struggling with rising bills; Sunak has said he would suspend VAT on energy bills.

However, experts have warned that tax cuts like these would benefit those on the highest incomes.

Read more: Some renters to miss out on £400 energy discount, experts warn

They will also not cover the scale of the immense price increases.

Last week, Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis said "people will be panicking" and "will be desperate" ahead of October's energy bill surge and urged the Tory leadership hopefuls and Boris Johnson to prepare.

"Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, Boris Johnson – if you're listening – please: go and sit in a room together, make a collective decision now of what help you can give and make an announcement now to forestall the mental damage that is coming across the country," he told the BBC.

"There needs to be action now."

Watch: Rishi Sunak defends tax policy after being accused of ‘U-turn’