More than 12,000 food parcels were handed out to people in need in south-east London over a six-month period, according to a charity.

Figures released by The Trussell Trust show 658,048 three-day emergency food parcels were distributed through its national foodbank network between April 1 and September 30 of this year.

This is a 13 per cent increase on the same period last year.

According to the figures from the charity, 72,239 of these food parcels were distributed to Londoners.

A breakdown of these figures shows 3,239 parcels were handed out to those hungry in Bexley.1,260 of those were given to children.

Foodbanks in Bromley gave out 2,161 three-day rations with 890 of those going to kids. Greenwich had the highest number of parcels distributed in the area as 3,409 of them were given to those in need. It also had the highest number of hungry children as 1,619 parcels were handed to kids.

Lewisham also saw large numbers of emergency food parcels leave foodbanks as 3,375 were given during the same period, with 1,182 parcels going to kids.

The Trussell Trust has said that while it understands people turn to foodbanks due to a number of different benefit issues, delays in people receiving their first Universal Credit payment remains one of the most common factors.

It can be at least a five-week wait for a first payment.

It has also said it is concerned that foodbank use this winter will rise further as it typically receives more referrals for emergency support during the second half of the financial year.

The charity has called for the Department for Work and Pensions to be resourced to "reduce the five-week wait for a first payment."

Chief executive of The Trussell Trust, Emma Revie has said that if Universal Credit is to help deal with poverty in the UK, urgent changes are needed.

"We’re seeing soaring levels of need at foodbanks. The time to act is now. If the five-week wait isn’t reduced, the only way to stop even more people being forced to foodbanks this winter will be to pause all new claims to Universal Credit, until funding is in place to reduce the five-week wait," said Emma.

She added: "Foodbanks cannot continue to pick up the pieces – we have to make sure our benefits system can protect people from hunger.”

When asked to comment on the charity's claims and calls for resources, a DWP spokeswoman said: "The reasons why people use foodbanks are complex, so it’s wrong to link a rise to any one cause.

"Universal Credit replaces an out-of-date, complex benefits system with cliff edges that disincentivised work and often trapped people in unemployment. We have just announced that we will be increasing the amount people can earn on Universal Credit by £1,000 before their payment begins to be reduced, to ensure work always pays, and introduced £1 billion to help people moving over from the old benefits system to Universal Credit.

"This is on top of the improvements we have already made – advances have increased to 100 per cent, the seven-day waiting period has been removed and we are paying housing benefit for an additional two weeks when people move onto Universal Credit."

A national petition has been launched by the End Hunger UK campaign, calling on the Government to "fix Universal Credit."

At the time of writing, it has received of 18,000 signatures.