Experts have issued an urgent Universal Credit warning to the Government after research revealed more than half of those in receipt of the benefit ran out of food at some point last month and couldn’t afford more.

The Trussell Trust is calling on the Government to take action as it published new research today.

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, found that 780,000 Universal Credit recipients were forced to use a food bank last month, while more than half (55 per cent) of recipients ran out of food and couldn’t afford more in the same period.

The Trussell Trust says that the new data further demonstrates the need for stronger, lasting support for people on the lowest incomes and that the Chancellor must prioritise support for those on the lowest incomes in the Spring Budget, including an extension to the Household Support Fund which has provided a lifeline for millions of people hit by high or unexpected costs.

Emma Revie, Chief Executive of the Trussell Trust, said: “This research emphasises the stark truth about poverty across the UK and the government cannot stand by and let this continue. They must act now to implement permanent solutions that alleviate the hardship faced by so many and prevent people from spiralling deeper into poverty.

“Food banks do all they can to support people in their communities, but charities alone can't take the place of a social security system that should support any of us who have fallen on hard times and need help. The Chancellor must commit to extending the Household Support Fund as part of the Spring Budget, which has provided a lifeline for so many people. Cutting off the funding in March would leave a huge gap in support that neither councils nor charities can fill.

“Alongside this, the government must act now to introduce an Essentials Guarantee, ensuring social security provides a protected minimum amount of support so that people can always afford the essentials, such as food and household bills.

“We know that the public is deeply concerned about poverty and hunger, with 72% supporting our call for an Essentials Guarantee and tens of thousands already having signed our petition calling for an Essentials Guarantee. We encourage anyone who believes that Universal Credit should always protect people from going without the essentials to join them.

“Every member of the UK Parliament has to take responsibility for making the changes needed to tackle poverty and to bring about the changes required to move towards ending the need for food banks, for good.”