EMERGENCY food bank use has jumped by 46 per cent in Denbighshire since last year, figures reveal.

Wales’ largest food bank network the Trussell Trust recorded its busiest ever half-year period from April to September, in which it handed out 1,799 three-day emergency food parcels in Denbighshire - equivalent to 10 every day. That is 571 more parcels than during the same period in 2018.

Just over 730 or 43 per cent of recipients were children.

Nearly 57,000 people including 21,000 children across Wales received the packages, which aim to meet the nutritional requirements for adults and children over three days. They include tinned fruit, vegetables, beans and pasta sauces, though fresh produce and meat is limited due to perishability.

Trussell Trust chief executive Emma Revie warned that Universal Credit had pushed people into poverty, with the five-week wait for initial payments under the system a key factor behind food bank use.

The figures for Denbighshire put the county at one package per 1.9 per cent of population, while Flintshire received 3,278 parcels (about 2 per cent), Gwynedd at 1,721 (1.4 per cent), Conwy at 579 (0.5 per cent) and Anglesey at 818 (1.2 per cent).

However a single food bank user may receive more than one package each year.

Idris Humphreys, chairman of the Vale of Clwyd Foodbank, the Trussel Trust branch in Denbigh, said volunteers have seen a 55 per cent jump in emergency parcels there. Mr Humphreys said he believes the rise was caused by changes to Universal Credit.

“There has been a change in the last six months whereas in previous years there was no increase,” he said. “Denbighshire was late to start Universal Credit so this is why we are seeing a rise now.”

Mr Humphreys said there are “two types of users” of the Denbigh food bank. “There are those who are chronically poor, including big families and single people in low income jobs and who cannot budget their benefits, as well as those who have experienced sudden change in circumstances such as a job loss, the hospital, relationship split-ups or a death in the family.”

Mark Young, Denbighshire County Council cabinet member for safer communities, said the figures are “shocking”.

“My fellow councillor Rhys Thomas does an amazing job with volunteers, but this is more than just food,” he said. “In a fair compassionate society ending hunger should be our priority, supporting and tackling the root causes that lock people into poverty and build people’s resilience so they are less likely to need a food banks in the future.”

Cllr Young urged members of the public to donate to the council’s collection points at its main offices before December 2.

A Welsh Government spokesperson said UK Government policies are to blame for the rise in food bank use.

“There are an increasing number of vulnerable people – including families with children – who do not have enough to eat because the UK Government’s welfare reforms are leaving them with insufficient means to cover these basic essentials of life,” the spokesperson said.

They said Welsh Government initiatives such as its childcare offer, school uniform grants and free school breakfasts aimed to “put more money back into people’s pockets” while it has allocated £2million to tackle food poverty and food insecurity.

A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “We spend over £95 billion a year on welfare, and have simplified the benefits system through Universal Credit.

“Free school meals are provided for 1.3 million disadvantaged children, and over £26 million has also been invested in a breakfast club programme.”