A total of 36 organisations – including councils and support groups, have issued an open letter outlining their concerns over the scale of the crisis, as residents face major rises in household expenses, for fuel, heating, and food.
Ten food banks or community food groups are amongst those who say they have major concerns over how people in Shropshire will cope with current squeeze on household finances.
The letter outlines the level of problems being faced by food banks – with increasing supermarket prices and major hikes in fuel and energy bills all combining in a "perfect storm".
The group warns the scale of the situation means people who have never before needed help could find themselves in trouble. The group says it welcomes efforts by the Chancellor through the Cost of Living Support Package, but wants long-term measures to deal with the issues.
Their letter says: "Food banks across the county are reporting record levels of demand. They are seeing the people who come through the doors facing an ever-increasing set of complex challenges.
"Mental health issues, domestic abuse, debt, the list goes on. Problems that will not be solved by simply giving out a food parcel.
"Many food banks have also seen people calling on their support who have never needed it in the past. People who are in work, people who have previously donated to the food bank."
It adds: "The support they can offer is not limitless, many are seeing donations drop off, are having to cut back on expenses or dip into reserves."
The group has made a series of calls for help, including support for those with oil or LPG heating, a 40 per cent reduction in fuel duty and VAT, and special efforts to tackle rural poverty, as well as a government commitment to help beyond the end of the year.
Those organisations behind the letter says they are “braced for the scale of the challenge,” as they report seeing record demand for help. Those adding their names include food banks in Shrewsbury, Oswestry, Market Drayton, Ludlow, Cleobury, Bishop’s Castle and Shifnal, as well as Telford Crisis Support and Telford and Wrekin Interfaith Council.
The letter says: “Locally, food banks in Shropshire have seen the main reason for referrals to their services change from benefits issues and financial shocks to ‘insufficient income’.
“In the words of Martin Lewis, the current crisis we are facing is ‘not something money management can fix’."
Many food banks have also seen people calling on their support who have never needed it in the past. People who are in work, people who have previously donated to the food bank. Some food banks have even introduced an evening session, specifically to help support those who are working and cannot get to the food bank during the day.”
Places offering advice:
‘Worrying About Money?’ leaflet – helps you quickly identify local cash first support available to you – worryingaboutmoney.co.uk/shropshire
Shropshire Larder – a community information resource bringing together a range of information that may be useful to those on a low income – shropshirelarder.org.uk
Citizens Advice Shropshire – an independent charity specialising in confidential information and advice to assist people with issues including benefits, debt, consumer, housing and other problems – cabshropshire.org.uk
Marches Energy Agency – free impartial energy advice – mea.org.uk
Shropshire Council’s cost of living advice webpage – shropshire.gov.uk/cost-of-living-help