Numbers receiving on emergency food aid in Northern Ireland hits record high as demand surges by 47%
Northern Ireland figures strongly linked to poverty pay and increasing proportions of working poor
April 15th: Speaking in response to figures released by the Trussell Trust showing the uptake of emergency food aid provided by its food banks, Ireland Secretary of Unite, Jimmy Kelly, said they reflected the failure of the Northern Ireland Executive to act to raise incomes for the working poor:
“The figures released by the Trussell Trust today are truly shocking and show food poverty is a growing problem in Northern Ireland. Over the last year the numbers of three-day emergency food packages distributed here rose from 17,425 to 25,755 or by a staggering 47%. The revelation that 11,125 of those packages went to children exposes the extent to which we are failing to protect the most vulnerable in our society.
“The Trussell Trust indicates uptake here is largely among those living on ‘low incomes’. In the rest of the UK, other factors such as the high cost of living or problems accessing benefits are more important but in Northern Ireland the main problem is our increasingly low wage economy.
“These scandalous statistics reflect the NI Executive’s abject failure to address the issue of poverty pay and the burgeoning numbers of ‘working-poor’ households.
“The Executive has the power to address this problem. They can enforce adoption of the genuine Living Wage rate by public bodies and make full Living Wage accreditation a condition for private companies seeking to obtain grant-aid support or win public procurement contracts.
“The incoming Executive should extend sectoral bargaining to those sections of the economy with the lowest pay rates and extend protections for those households dependent on benefits. In light of these figures, more of the same cannot be an option”, Mr Kelly concluded.