THE number of emergency food supplies handed out by a foodbank charity in Monmouthshire increased by 14 per cent in 2018.

Figures by the Trussell Trust show 2,852 packages were handed out the people in Monmouthshire over the course of last year, including 978 to children.

The Trussell Trust, which runs a network of foodbanks across the UK, said the period between April 2018 and March 2019 was the busiest since the charity was founded in 1997.

Other figures show 49 per cent of referrals to the charity's food banks were the result of delays in benefits – including Universal Credit – being paid.

Chief executive Emma Revie said ending the five-week wait for a claimant’s first Universal Credit payment should be the UK government’s top priority.

“What we are seeing year-upon-year is more and more people struggling to eat because they simply cannot afford food,” she said.

“Enough is enough. We know this situation can be fixed – that’s why we’re campaigning to create a future where no one needs a food bank.”

Across Wales, 113,373 packages were handed out in 2018.