HOUSEHOLDS across North Down are continuing to struggle with more and more people turning to foodbanks to get by, according to North Down MP Stephen Farry.
Mr Farry has expressed his concerns about how households are coping with the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, amidst ever increasing costs and rising interest rates.
He was speaking after a visit to Bangor Foodbank and Community Support to thank staff and volunteers and to discuss what further assistance can be provided to those struggling over coming months.
“More and more working households are turning to foodbanks, including Bangor Foodbank, as it becomes increasingly difficult to manage rising costs, including the added pressure of increasing interest rates on mortgages,” said Mr Farry.
“There is a clearly a time-lag on mortgage pressures due to a combination of some households moving off fixed-rate mortgages and using up other resources or credit options first.
“Levels of need and associated demands on emergency providers, such as foodbanks may well grow over the coming months.”
Mr Farry said the situation is compounded by the absence of the various household support schemes that were in place last winter.
“It is a really challenging time – many people are struggling and is the duty of government to protect against hardship,” the MP continued. “I have repeatedly called on the UK Government to do more – in addition to a restored Executive, which could tailor assistance to local needs.
“I intend to continue to do so – it is a moral failure to allow continued suffering and distress.”
The MP said while foodbanks do incredible work, ‘it is a failure of government for them to exist in the first place’.
“People should not have any stigma about approaching the Foodbank for help. Clients come from all walks of life and financial pressures can emerge for many reasons and in lots of different contexts,” he said.
“I have written to the Government to reiterate these concerns, and to local banks to highlight the role that they play in providing necessary safeguards for struggling homeowners.
“Some banks will enjoy inflated profits as a result of rising interest rates. I am writing to the leading local banks to ask what they plan to do, to safeguard community interests and protect families from further financial hardship.”