Trussell Trust figures expose NI Executive’s failure to adopt Living Wage and protect those on benefits

albert-hewitt1Numbers dependent on emergency food aid in Northern Ireland surges by 43.1%

Northern Ireland figures demonstrate failure to address poverty pay and growth of ‘just about managing’ households

November 21st: Speaking in response to figures released by the Trussell Trust for uptake of emergency food aid provided by its food banks, Unite Community Coordinator, Albert Hewitt, placed the blame on 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 – dependency on food aid has surged in Northern Ireland. They are an indictment of the Executive’s failure to act to protect our most vulnerable.

“Over the last year the numbers of three-day emergency food packages distributed in Northern Ireland in the period April to September grew to 12,767, or by a staggering 43.1%, over the same period the previous year. What’s worse, is that approximately half those packages went to children. Another generation now risks being left behind.

“It is clear from these statistics, and those released by the Trussell Trust for the previous six month period, that there’s an unusually strong link between the high dependency on food aid here and ‘low income’. Wages in Northern Ireland have fallen ever further behind the rest of the UK.

“These scandalous statistics reflect the failure of the Northern Ireland Executive to address the issue of poverty pay and the growing number of ‘just about managing’ households. The Executive has the power to address this problem: they can enforce cross-cutting adoption of the Living Wage by public bodies and make full Living Wage accreditation a condition for receiving private sector grants or winning public procurement tenders.

“The Executive should also act to extend sectoral bargaining to those parts of the economy with the lowest pay and extend protections for those households dependent on benefits”, Mr Hewitt concluded.

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