Food bank usage and the roll-out of Universal Credit in the United Kingdom

The roll-out of Universal Credit has generated considerable concern that issues with benefit payments are forcing people to rely on food aid to help them make ends meet. According to the Trussell Trust, foodbanks in areas where the full service of Universal Credit has been implemented (covering single people, couples, and families) have seen a far higher rise in referrals for emergency food than the national average. However, it is unclear whether the results drawn from this narrow set of areas is indicative of other parts of country. We explore in more detail then whether the roll-out of Universal Credit is associated with more food bank usage using data at the postcode district level. We seek to unpack whether foodbank referrals are potentially driven by the problems associated with roll-out (i.e., early administrative difficulties) or whether they are more systemic (i.e., rooted in the long waiting period for the first payment).