Foodbank usage has soared this Winter due to the roll out of Universal Credit, says the SDLP.
Upper Bann MLA Dolores Kelly says the rise in the use of Foodbanks is particularly prevelant in universal credit communities
The roll out of Universal Credit in Upper Bann began in March 2018.
She said: “Recent research from The Trussell Trust reveals that foodbank use in NI spiked by 13% in just six months compared to the same period last year. This increase is directly related to the roll out of Universal Credit. On average, 12 months after rollout, foodbanks see a 52% increase in demand, compared to 13% in areas with Universal Credit for 3 months or less.
“All the evidence available suggests that the introduction of Universal Credit in new communities is swiftly followed by hardship for struggling families. The introduction of welfare cuts has led to foodbanks being overrun and all politicians locally need to recognise the impact of welfare cuts it has on the people they represent.
“The new welfare system is increasingly driving referrals to food banks due to benefit delays, which include waiting for a first payment or having problems with a new claim.
“The generosity of people who donate to the foodbanks and the volunteers who manage and distribute the food are an inspiration.
“Unfortunately, the winter months are more difficult were foodbanks typically receive more referrals for emergency support and we need to redouble our efforts.
“To express our gratitude, the SDLP will be doing our bit this Christmas to assist local foodbanks and doing all we can to help families under pressure.”