THE number of people using the North Cotswold Food Bank has increased by nearly 20 per cent in the last year, according to latest figures.

Set up more than two years ago to help people living in food poverty, the Guiting Power-based service fed 1,432 people, including 734 children, between April 2013 and March this year, compared with 1,162 in the year before.

Figures from the Trussell Trust, which runs North Cotswold Food Bank along with more than 300 others nationwide, show food bank usage across the UK has tripled over the last 12 months.

It points to static incomes, rising living costs, low pay, underemployment and problems with welfare.

While the service in the North Cotswolds has not seen an increase of such an extent, food bank manager Rhian Morgan said the area is not immune to problems.

“Most of our clients in this area are low income working families,” she said.

“People are struggling to meet budgets. All you need is your car breaking down and your budget totally goes over.”

She said unstable working hours in rural professions are also a factor in this area.

“We had somebody from Moreton working 50 hours a week on a farm and that was reduced to 10. That’s the nature of this area”.

The foodbank, which also has outlets in Winchcombe, Bourton, Chipping Campden and Moreton, offers at least three days’ non-perishable food to those in need of emergency assistance.