This week, in my capacity as director of Epping Forest Foodbank appeared on Sky News to discuss the effect that the cost of living has had on the people of Epping Forest. 

The Trussell Trust has published new research that reveals the devastating consequences of the inadequacy of Universal Credit across the UK.

The anti-poverty charity is urging the chancellor to take urgent action to increase long-term support for people struggling to get by on Universal Credit and commit to extending the Household Support Fund as soon as possible. 

The research, conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Trussell Trust, revealed that 780,000 people (12%) claiming Universal Credit have been forced to use a food bank in the last month (December 23/January 24), and more than half (55%) ran out of food in the last month and couldn’t afford more.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Jacob Forman was given the opportunity to put real stories to cost-of-living statistics on Sky NewsJacob Forman was given the opportunity to put real stories to cost-of-living statistics on Sky News (Image: Jacob Forman)

Also, in the last three months, 22% of people claiming Universal Credit were unable to cook hot food as they couldn’t afford to use their oven or other utilities. 

The survey found that 3.4 million people claiming Universal Credit (52%) have either fallen behind on bills and credit commitments or are finding it a constant struggle to keep up with them. Two in five people (42%) are behind on one or more household bill. 

This national story is being felt right here in Epping Forest, where over the past 12 months, we have seen a near doubling of people coming into our food bank centres across the district.

Most are already receiving some form of assistance, but as the cost of everything keeps going up, wages and government assistance stay the same. 

Here in Epping Forest, discussing this on Sky News allowed me to put a real face to these statistics, like the family who have had to ban their children from playing football in school breaks in case they rip their clothes, or another group who haven’t been able to put the heating on all winter. 

Many of these stories you will have already heard as we have been writing about them right here in the Guardian and will continue to do so to make sure no one is forgotten in these tough times we find ourselves in. 

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Jacob Forman is director of Epping Forest Foodbank