THE boss of Blackburn’s Foodbank has backed a call by a national charity for the government to end the five-week wait for Universal Credit claimants’ first payment.

Its operations manager Ros Duerden said the delay often trapped poor families in a cycle of debt they struggled to escape from.

She spoke out as Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said new Chancellor Rishi Sunak should change the system and end the wait for the often-vital initial payment of the new benefit.

Blackburn Foodbank and its Ribble Valley counterpart are part of the charity’s national foodbank network.

The trust revealed that in December last year the public donated 378.4 tonnes of food to its North West outlets, of which 50.1 were from Lancashire.

Mrs Duerden revealed that Blackburn Foodbank received 10 tonnes from its collections in five supermarkets and other gifts - slightly more than the same month in 2018.

Ms Revie is calling on Mr Sunak to use his March 11 Budget to end the five-week wait for initial Universal Credit payments and ensure benefits cover the cost of living.

She said: “Foodbanks in the North West were truly overwhelmed by the level of generosity from the public in the run up to Christmas but no charity can replace the dignity of having enough money to buy your own food.

“It’s now time for our new Chancellor to do his part and match these acts of compassion by doing the right thing and putting money back into the pockets of people who most need support.

“The government’s priority must be ending the five-week wait for Universal Credit.”

Mrs Duerden said: “The generosity of the people of Blackburn with Darwen is astounding. Since we started in November 2012 their donations have enabled us to help and support 65,000 people.

“I fully support the trust in calling for the end of the five-week wait. It leaves people in debt they cannot get out of. It has a knock-on effect for years. We have couples where both are in work but on zero hours contracts who cannot plan ahead as their hours and income changes every month and their Universal Credit has to be altered.

“They need payments that cover their cost of living.”