BOSSES at Renfrewshire Foodbank fear the number of people struggling to put food on the table could double as a result of the Universal Credit cut.

Crystal Clayton, foodbank manager, said her team are expecting huge queues to soon form outside distribution centres following the removal of the £20-a-week uplift.

The scheme – introduced by the UK Government in reaction to the Covid crisis – ended last week, leaving many families wondering how they will afford to eat properly or pay for their heating.

Miss Clayton said scores of local people will be pushed into poverty and has urged ministers to think again.

“We are worried there’s going to be huge queues outside because people are going to have no choice,” she added.

“I think the number of users could potentially double because it’s not just the Universal Credit cut, there are so many other external factors.

“Food and energy prices are going up and it’s all going to push a lot of people into poverty. It’s coming up to winter as well.

“I really would urge the UK Government to reconsider this and put the uplift back in place. I don't think they realise how much of an impact this is going to have on people.

“It’s an extremely worrying time for a lot of people because £20 a week is a lot of money. It’s £80 a month they now don’t have.”

The UK Government has insisted the boost was always temporary to help deal with the economic shock of the pandemic and the focus must now shift to getting people back into work and helping those in jobs progress and earn more.

But many have said the uplift should be made permanent, arguing benefit payments were not adequate enough before the crisis.

Miss Clayton said the extra £20 has helped many people avoid a choice between eating and heating.

She added: “I think that uplift helped people keep their heads above water. It meant lots didn’t have to choose whether to have their heating on or put food on the table.

“Now people might not be able to afford to eat properly or put the facilities on that they need to cook.

“There should be enough money for people to buy their own provisions and essentials. As much as we are here to help people, ideally, we don’t want foodbanks to have to exist.”

Single claimants aged under 25 on Universal Credit will now receive £257.33 per month, down from £344, while those over 25 will get £324.84, instead of £411.51.

Couples who are both under 25 and claiming will receive £403.93 per month, rather than £490.60, and couples over 25 will get £509.91, instead of £596.58.

The foodbank, which has its main office in Renfrew, also offers financial advice to people struggling with money.

Elizabeth Alexander, senior manager at the foodbank, said it is currently in a stable position, thanks to support from the local community, but she has made a plea for donations of some items which are running low.

"I’d like to say a big thank-you to the community for all their wonderful support," she added. "If anyone can help, we are currently looking for donations of diluting juice, long-life milk, chocolate and crisps, spreads like jam and marmalade and household items like laundry detergent and toilet paper.”

Donations should be handed to the foodbank office at Westway, Porterfield Road, Renfrew.

It is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 9.30am to 11.45am.

Distribution centres are located at Paisley Central Baptist Church, St Paul’s Church, Johnstone, and Renfrew Baptist Church but these sites cannot accept donations.