Foodbank usage in Wandsworth is increasing at three times the national rate, according to figures released last week.

The figures, released by Wandsworth Foodbank, showed that 4712 people used the service last year- that is an increase of 16 per cent. Out of that number, 1732 were children.

Foodbank use rose by 25 percent compared to 4 per cent across London as a whole.

The newly elected MP for Battersea Marsha de Cordova described the situation in “one of the UK’s richest boroughs” as “shocking”.

She said: “Clearly the safety net for Wandsworth’s most vulnerable residents is broken.”

Foodbanks appeared for the first time in the borough in 2013 and has increased year on year.

According to the Trussell Trust which runs Wandsworth’s foodbanks “more people were referred because of low income than ever before – accounting for 28 per cent of all crisis referrals”.

The report also shows that an increasing number of households were referred to the foodbank on five or more occasions suggesting that “more people are struggling in food poverty for longer”.

The main causes of food poverty in Wandsworth were delays to benefit payments, low income, debt, illness, mental issues, domestic violence and homelessness.

Food poverty in turn leads to increased mental health problems and poorer physical health.

The report shows problems with benefits accounted for 39 per cent of all referrals to the Foodbank.

The report states: “We ask the government to urgently improve the benefits system to fix the gaps that cause hunger.

“We particularly ask for urgent improvements to the quality and implementation of health assessments, and for better support for people – particularly those with poorer mental health and/or learning disabilities.

“We ask that the government urgently reconsiders its policy on paying Universal Credit in arrears, with a built-in waiting period for the benefit claim to begin, which means that people can be waiting without income for six weeks until first payment, causing unnecessary hardship.

“We ask local Jobcentre Plus and the DWP to improve access to Short Term Benefit Advance and Hardship Payments, proactively offering this emergency financial resource to people affected by benefit delay, change or sanction, rather than waiting for people to ask for it.”

In February, Wandsworth Council voted to remove the hardship payments for childless Wandsworth residents.

See related: Wandsworth Council cuts hardship payments for childless people

The Trussell Trust is calling on Wandsworth Council to “reconsider its policies” to ensure vulnerable residents have access to hardship payments when emergency financial help is needed.

Finance spokesman Councillor Guy Senior said: “The council operates a £1.2 million discretionary housing fund which provides targeted help to the borough’s most vulnerable families who need additional financial support with their housing costs.

“Following the Government’s recent changes to the benefit cap the council reviewed the scheme and decided to give priority to local families with children.

“Childless households can still get support from this fund, subject to a case by case review.  

“These changes, which only came into effect in in April, do not affect pensioners nor those in receipt of long term disability and caring benefits as these are not affected by the cap.

“We also have a second hardship fund, the £200,000 Wandsworth Discretionary Social Fund which provides crisis payments and care grants to people in need of emergency help, and can be used for a range of day to day needs including purchasing food if that’s what’s needed.”

A DWP spokesperson said: “Reasons for food bank use are complex so it’s misleading to link them to any one issue.

“There are record numbers of people in work, and we continue to spend around £90bn a year on working age benefits to provide a strong safety net.

“The vast majority of benefits are processed on time, and for those who need extra support we provide hardship payments, benefit advances and budgeting loans.”