Trussell Trust research highlights the stark reality for many households across Northern Ireland – Allen

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Trussell Trust research highlights the stark reality for many households across Northern Ireland – Allen

The Ulster Unionist Party’s Communities Spokesperson and East Belfast MLA, Andy Allen MBE, has described the findings of research from the Trussell Trust, which highlight that the number of food parcels handed out by food banks has increased by 25%, with 10,000 more people seeking help for the first time, as demonstrating the stark reality of life for many households across Northern Ireland.

Mr Allen said:

“Whilst sadly not surprising, these findings highlight the stark reality facing many households across Northern Ireland who are being pushed beyond the brink by the cost of living crisis - they desperately need support. I do recognise that Westminster has delivered some support, but it is not enough. The promised £400 electricity discount is yet to be delivered, with little to no detail beyond ‘it is coming’, making it impossible for households to plan and budget. However, across the rest of the United Kingdom, devolved administrations and local councils are actively delivering localised support but, once again, Northern Ireland is left behind.

“I am not saying the return of the Northern Ireland Executive would be the panacea but rather, at a minimum, it could be working to deliver and develop localised solutions and interventions focusing on the short, medium and long-term. However, with each passing day, it is a day missed to be developing and delivering this much-needed support.

“Meanwhile, we have anti-poverty and fuel poverty strategies lying on a shelf gathering dust, no safety net for households at risk of energy disconnection, and a significant number of homes with poorly insulated cavity walls and roof-spaces, resulting in up to 35% of their heat being lost. To compound that, there are no Ministers in place to take the local decisions required to provide a level of support and intervention, and instead it is our third sector who are yet again stepping up to fill the void. This is wholly unacceptable.

“If the DUP had the influence they would claim to have, in respect of the Northern Ireland protocol – and which clearly needs to be addressed - why haven’t they ensured the much-needed energy bills support scheme (the £400 electricity discount) was delivered at the same time as England, which commenced at the beginning of October? People are really suffering and they deserve better than this.”