“Austerity and Low wage economy are the primary factors behind the hike in the number of people having to resort to foodbanks, Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has said.
The Foyle Assemblyman further stated that the “serious increase in Food Bank dependency” was a direct consequence of the Tory assault on living standards and their attack on public services and the welfare state.
Predicting that the situation will worsen further as more cuts are inflicted, Mr McCartney said: “These attacks on the living standards of the working poor and those dependent on the benefits system is exacerbated by our low wage economy.
“Advice NI in a report last year stated that the use of Food Banks had increased by almost 500% over the previous year and there is no evidence to show that their use has decreased since then.
“Contrary to popular belief it is not just people and families who are in receipt of social benefits who are being forced to avail of these charities, but with the expected cuts to child and working tax credits, more and more people who are in work will be forced to avail of them.”
Mr McCartney elaborated that people from a diverse range of backgrounds were now facing very stark choices and real hardship.
He said: “Many are grappling with the results of job loss, mental or physical health problems brought on mainly by financial difficulties due to the Tory cuts agenda.
“These problems are then aggravated by the increasing casualisation of working conditions, the use of zero hour contracts, the refusal of most employers to pay a living wage and the increase in use of agency workers.
“Unless we address these issues as a matter of priority we will continue to see an increase in the numbers using food banks.”