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Community Lurgan

Kelly Concerned at Food Bank Usage Spike Following Universal Credit Cut

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly has expressed concern at a spike in food bank use in the Upper Bann area following the £20 weekly cut to Universal Credit.  

Craigavon Area Foodbank reported a rise of over 100 new referrals for food boxes following the cut at the beginning of October.  

There was also a rise in families and single people being referred to the food bank.  

Mrs Kelly visited the foodbank to meet volunteers.

She said:  

“During my visit to Craigavon Area Foodbank I thanked staff for everything they are doing on behalf of local people. There are currently hundreds of people receiving support from the group across Craigavon, Portadown and Lurgan and they would be lost without the vital work of this foodbank and the support they provide.

“I was concerned to hear that there had been a marked rise in referrals following the £20 weekly cut to Universal Credit at the start of October. Many families had come to rely on this vital extra money during the coronavirus pandemic and having it snatched away from them from the Tory government, a cut that was rubber stamped by Sinn Féin Finance Minister Conor Murphy, has created serious hardship.

“It was heartbreaking talking to staff about all the local people who are currently experiencing food poverty. It is not just those who are unemployed who are experiencing difficulties, there is a significant section of this community who fall into the category of the working poor, low paid workers who can’t get by on their wages. There have also been a number of job losses in this area in recent months, with all these issues coming together to create a perfect storm.

“These people have been let down by the British government who made the decision to impose this £20 weekly cut despite the multitude of pressures people are facing and Sinn Fein Ministers Murphy and Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey who let this cut go ahead, without doing anything to mitigate it for those affected. It’s shameful that people are being forced to rely on food banks in the 21st century and that those with the power to intervene fail to do anything about it.”

ENDS

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