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22/09/2021

Universal Credit leading to people in Derry having to rely on local food banks for support

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SDLP Mark H Durkan MLA, has voiced his growing concerns amid the ‘disastrous’ consequences of Universal Credit, adding that the increased reliance on food banks locally is only a part of the 'worrying' story of welfare reform. Mr Durkan said:"Lessons should have been learnt from the disastrous roll-out of Universal Credit in England which saw emergency food supplies delivered to over a million people in crisis last year. "But these lessons were ignored and the rollout of the scheme here is beginning to spiral-with an increase in the number of people using food banks, a number which is expected to soar in the coming months and years. "Constituency offices and advice centres have become ‘Universal Credit support services’ in the last year and that doesn't look likely to change any time soon. "We have people from all sections of society struggling to make ends meet as a result of Universal Credit and are having to increasingly direct people to Foyle food bank and other charities to help them survive. " "Poverty is here, it's happening on our doorstep. We can't ignore it in the hope that the kinks in the scheme will miraculously work themselves out. "For many people this isn’t a matter of living paycheck to paycheck. Universal Credit is plunging many people here in to debt. An endless cycle of paying rent arrears and loans- ultimately being left without the money to provide the very basic necessity of feeding themselves and their families. "We cannot sit back and watch Welfare Reform destroy society to the point that men and women can’t put food on the table. When we have reached that point, urgent intervention can’t be merely a suggestion but a requirement." "We should expect to see many more cases like these. But it can't by any means be accepted as the norm. Food poverty should not be tolerated in any society, least of all here in the North where a functioning Assembly could put a stop to Universal Credit and prevent further hardship. We must nip it in the bud before it gets to a point of no return."

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