Uttlesford Foodbank reacts to council allowances donation decision

"Uttlesford District Council" on a green sign at the London Road offices, Saffron Walden

Uttlesford District Council. Picture: Will Durrant - Credit: Archant

Uttlesford Foodbank's manager says the service is grateful to councillors after they agreed to donate money in November to help the community.

Sophie Durlacher said the money will help foodbank clients have access to a wide range of fresh food options.

Her comments came after a decision made at Uttlesford District Council, following a fierce debate and an accusation about "virtue signalling".

The council agreed to call on the UK Government to retain the £20 Universal Credit uplift, and to write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and MP Kemi Badenoch, who is now a minister in the Department for Levelling Up.

The amended motion stated: "This will send a clear message to our residents following the pandemic which has resulted in acute financial pressures, job losses and increased debt, that we believe in fairness."

Councillors will be invited to donate to the Foodbank during November and Cllr Ayub Khan will liaise with the Foodbank and report back to the council in early 2022 on how the cash raised was used to support families and individuals in need.

During the debate, Conservative group leader Christian Criscione said the council needed to stop “virtue signalling”.

“Would it hit me financially to give up, as we are suggesting we do, my councillors allowance?

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“Yes, yes it would, but I will and I know others in the same situation will, because they know there are people out there who are much worse off than us.”

The meeting heard that Uttlesford families could lose £1,040 a year through the £20 per week uplift to Universal Credit ending.

Local Government Association statistics revealed that 4,806 people in the district were claiming Universal Credit as of August 2021, with 2,078 of those in employment.

Sophie Durlacher of Uttlesford Foodbank

Sophie Durlacher of Uttlesford Foodbank - Credit: Sophie Durlacher

Speaking after the decision had been made, Uttlesford Foodbank Manager Sophie Durlacher said: "We are grateful to be entrusted with this money, considering the removal of the £20 Universal Credit uplift.

"Any funds received will be used to help mitigate the effects of the rise in household bills by ensuring that our clients have access to a wide range of fresh food options."