Hammersmith and Fulham Food Bank: Huge Increase in Use as People Face Benefit and Mental Health ProblemsIBTimes TV

Food banks in Britain are "consistently" reporting an increase in demand and there is no evidence that their rising popularity is linked to their growth in numbers.

According to a Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) commissioned report, which was conducted by the University of Warwick and the Food Ethics Council in February to March 2013, there is "growing demand" for help to meet food needs.

The study also revealed that the key drivers of the growing demand are described by providers as "crises".

The report explained crises in household income, such as loss of a job or problems with social security benefits, are often underpinned by on-going problems of low income, rising food and other costs and increasing indebtedness.

"We urge the government to learn from it and from those living in harsh circumstances, and to find creative, fair ways to enable all in this rich country to have enough money to be able to eat healthily," said Professor Elizabeth Dowler, a co-author of the report.

The research also revealed that the growing demand in food banks may have contributed to more food aid being provided, through existing and new structures.

The report will leave Lord Freud, the Conservative millionaire minister who claimed increased food bank use was because of extra outlets and free food, red faced.

A Defra spokesperson said: "Charities such as food organisations have always provided a valued service to those in need in their communities, in addition to the safety net provided by governments, and we should welcome the help they provide.

"That is why this government has given Jobcentre Plus advisers the ability to say to people who need help that they can go to a food bank."