WITH Foodbank client numbers rocketing in Blaenau Gwent, MP Nick Smith has said the Government needs to halt the roll-out of Universal Credit.

MP Nick Smith joined Blaenau Gwent Foodbank volunteers to help collect donations at Ebbw Vale Tesco on Saturday (December 1).

Blaenau Gwent Foodbank data shows that around 80% of those who went to the Foodbank for the first time in November were struggling due an issue related to Universal Credit.

The total number of people needing a food parcel due to benefit related issues is up 60% on last November.

In total the six Blaenau Gwent Foodbanks helped more than 500 people last month.

Nick Smith MP praised the work of Foodbank volunteers and the generosity of shoppers while calling for a halt to the roll-out of Universal Credit.

Mr Smith said. “While it is heartening to see the tremendous generosity of people in Blaenau Gwent in action, it is unacceptable that Universal Credit is putting people in this position.

“If it wasn’t for the hardworking Foodbank volunteers and those making such generous donations, there would be families and individuals in Blaenau Gwent unable to eat.

“Universal Credit was supposed to lift people out of poverty. It is having the opposite effect.

“It is putting people in debt and leaving many with the choice of either paying the rent or putting food on the table.

“Universal Credit is failing. This Government needs to scrap the managed migration regulations and stop the roll-out of Universal Credit.”

Mr Smith added: “I would encourage anyone who is able to donate to help out in the run-up to Christmas. The Foodbank needs to stock up on all the usual items. I’m told that tinned meat, squash, long-life milk, rice pudding and tinned vegetables are among the items that would be most helpful.”

Blaenau Gwent Foodbank project manager Amanda Davies said: “We have seen the numbers go up and Universal Credit is probably the biggest single reason. People are really struggling.

“I would like to say a massive, massive thank you to the staff and shoppers at the two Tesco stores in Blaenau Gwent for their help. Thank you is not a big enough word.”

To find out more about Blaenau Gwent Foodbank – how to donate and also how to receive a parcel – visit blaenaugwent.foodbank.org.uk or see the Blaenau Gwent Foodbank Facebook page.

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