Get involved! Send your photos, video, news & views by texting CI NEWS to 80360 or email us
Feeling the cash squeeze
2:11pm Wednesday 13th March 2013 in News
DEMAND for emergency food parcels provided by a Chard organisation is growing at an alarming rate with more people finding it difficult to pay for essentials.
There are fears that poverty could become rife for families in the Chard, Ilminster and Crewkerne area with pressures on personal finances being squeezed even further in coming months.
And the Lord's Larder scheme run from the Forefront Community Church in Fore Street, Chard, has seen an increase in the number of people being referred to it by GPs, social services or churches who struggle to afford basic shopping.
Scheme chairman John White told the News: “We are seeing more and more people being referred to us for help - unprecedented demand.”
He said that demand had gone up by more than 50% on this time last year.
South Somerset District Council is worried that the introduction of the Universal Credit System later this year will leave more and more people without money for food.
Instead of people receiving payments from various agencies over the month they will receive just one cheque, and council bosses fear some families will not be able to budget, which could plunge them into problems.
Council leader Cllr Ric Pallister said the demand on schemes such as the Lord's Larder, which help provide basic shopping for people who are struggling to make ends meet, was growing.
“The number of people wanting help will increase because of the Universal Credits,” he said.
“You'd normally think of high social deprivation areas such as in Yeovil or Chard wanting help, but people from all parts of the district will want support.
“You’d think we were entering the Third World with the demand on food banks growing, but that's going to happen the more people are going to be squeezed for money.”
Introduction of Universal Credits in the autumn, plus changes to council tax, where everyone will pay something, and the implementation of a bedroom tax will increase the pressure on people already on the breadline.
Cllr Pallister said the council's dedicated welfare officers were already hearing "shocking" stories, but added: "What we've seen so far are one-offs, but these will become more common."