We understand that the pressures people are facing mean that some will not be able to give as much to charity as they have done in the past. However, while recent reports show a drop, average donations remain higher than pre covid, and total donations for the first quarter of 2022 look to be the highest since 2017, although this is due in large part to the incredible generosity of the British people in giving over £300 million towards the Ukrainian humanitarian appeal. I will continue to work closely with the sector on this important issue.
I thank the Minister for that response, but he just does not get it, does he? Thanks to this Government’s cruel policies, food banks are now embedded in our welfare state. As the cost of living crisis intensifies, we are running out of food donations and people are going hungry. It is an abdication of the Government’s duty to leave charities to fill gaps left by the state, so when will whoever is left in the Government start doing their job?
I gently remind the hon. Lady that the Opposition do not have a monopoly on sympathy and understanding. We completely understand the pressures that people are facing with the cost of living and have taken action to support families. That is why the Government are providing over £15 billion in further support targeted particularly at those with the greatest need. That is in addition to over £22 billion announced previously. Government support on the cost of living now totals £37 billion this year.
I associate myself with the remarks by my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mrs Lewell-Buck). That is the experience in my constituency too—food banks are suffering. Research by the Charities Aid Foundation found that 82% of charities are worried about how they are going to pay their utility bills, and many of them worry that they will not survive the crisis. What action are the Government taking to help our valuable charities to stay afloat?
During the pandemic, we showed how important charities were, with more than £750 million for the charity scheme. That showed that we needed them to survive, because they play such an important role in our society. I will continue to engage with charities and make representations to other parts of Government. We recognise the important role they play, but also we need to help families directly, which will then reduce the burden on the charities.
Charities are indeed working harder than ever to support people through this cost of living crisis. They are delivering food to older people, supporting people with the stresses of poverty and working tirelessly to advocate for vulnerable people, yet charities are suffering from a big hit to their income as their running costs spiral and demand for their services rockets. I cannot find any mention that the Secretary of State has made of charities since she was appointed last year. Will the Minister admit that charities have not been a priority for this Government, and when will they take the steps to support the sector to deal with this perfect storm of pressures?
The hon. Lady is completely wrong. The Secretary of State and I talk about and to charities all the time—constantly. What she said goes against the facts. As I just outlined, there was £750 million in charity support during the pandemic, which was a specific recognition of the key role that they play.