Larne Foodbank expects rise in users due to benefit changes

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Larne Foodbank is anticipating a rise in the number of people accessing its emergency food service this year, partly due to changes in the benefits system.

The local group, based at Craigyhill Methodist Church, provided three days of emergency food to 782 people between April 2016 and the end of January 2017.

According to the organisation’s records, 14 per cent of its clients during that period accessed emergency food due to benefit issues, with the numbers expected to rise as changes to the benefit system begin to bite.

Foodbank Co-ordinator Alan Turner said that changes such as caps on housing benefit, sanctions on Job Seekers Allowance, the replacement of Disability Living Allowance with Personal Independence Payment and the introduction of Universal Credit could hit benefits claimants hard.

“Benefits changes and delays lead to a large number of clients coming to Larne Foodbank,” he stated.

“Changes in the austerity programme have led, and will lead, to those on benefits finding their finances adversely affected.

“Fewer people are eligible for benefits under the new changes and as a result many families will have less income and demand for the services of Larne Foodbank will increase.

“When we opened Larne Foodbank four years ago a lot of people questioned whether it was needed but the figuresspeak for themselves.

“The foodbank is a safety net for these people.”

Larne Foodbank offers three days of emergency food to those in crisis.

“Anyone on welfare benefits who finds themselves in a crisis due to benefit change, delay or sanction is eligible for three days of emergency food for their family from Larne Foodbank,” Alan continued.

“Should you be in any of these circumstances go to Citizens’ Advice or any of our many referrers to obtain a voucher.”

Anyone requir advice on benefits changes is urged to contact Citizens’ Advice on Station Road, or phone free on 08088020020.