The BBC website lost all semblance of editorial impartiality yesterday, but how are they faring today? This headline makes their homepage this morning:
The claim comes from a report by the Trussell Trust, press released this morning as “Food bank use tops one million for first time”. It would be reasonable to assume from both that title and the BBC headline that, currently, one million people are using food banks. Is that the case?
Scroll down to the very bottom of the Trussell Trust press release, and of the “million” in the headline, they admit “on average 49 percent of foodbank users only needed one foodbank voucher in a year”.
In fact, “only 15 percent needed help more than three times in a year”. So it is misleading in the least to imply that a million people are currently using food banks.
What’s more, the Trussell Trust ‘fess up: “We cannot measure unique users on a national scale”. The “million” is not even a unique figure, it counts those who use foodbanks on more than once occassion twice.
But don’t let the facts get in the way of a good election story…
UPDATE: Full Fact also take issue with the headline:
“The claim that over a million people are using Trussell Trust food banks is inaccurate. It comes from confusing the number of different people using Trussell Trust food banks in a year with the number of times they use the food banks.
The Trussell Trust collect their data from the vouchers used by people referred to their food banks. If one voucher feeds a family of 4 people, that’s 4 instances. If the same family visit again next week, that’s another 4 instances. The Trussell Trust say that on average people needed two food bank vouchers annually, so the number of people using food banks is likely to be around half of the 1.1 million figure.”