Northern Ireland news

Children's charity calls for urgent financial measures to help families 'hanging by a thread'

Action for Children has called for the increase in Universal Credit to be extended beyond the spring
John Monaghan

A CHARITY has called on Stormont and Westminster to take urgent measures to prevent families across Northern Ireland who are "hanging by a thread" being plunged into an imminent financial crisis this winter.

A report by Action for Children has warned that more than one in ten families in the north are already having to choose between paying bills and eating meals.

The charity fears the situation could worsen with the British government's furlough scheme due to end within weeks and a possible second wave of coronavirus looming.

Lorna Ballard, NI director at Action for Children, said the charity's key workers report that child poverty levels are "at the worst they can remember".

She said: "Families across Northern Ireland are hanging by a thread as they face one of the bleakest winters of their lives.

"With furlough ending and unemployment set to rocket just as we hit the colder months, they'll be plunged into even deeper crisis.

"The NI Executive must honour their commitment to the New Decade, New Approach agreement and establish a child poverty strategy.

"We are also calling for the UK government to put a protective shield around struggling families by ensuring November's Budget makes clear that Universal Credit will not be cut by £20 a week in the spring."

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Northern Ireland news