ONE of the borough’s most affluent areas recorded an 800 per cent surge in families relying on foodbanks - sparking fresh concern the government’s restrictive tier system is strangling households more than ever during the pandemic.

Shocked councillors in the Penistone area received the data from Barnsley Council, and they’ve collectively warned this week that the situation could get a ‘whole lot worse’ as winter progresses and continued uncertainty over the borough’s precarious coronavirus situation remains.

Penistone has come under the spotlight in the run-up to Christmas given its positioning as one of the most affluent areas in the borough, but the stark rise has been labelled as ‘dramatic’ by those in the area due to traditionally poorer places previous being cited as villages of concern.

Coun David Greenhough said: “We had a full briefing with Barnsley Council officers about what is going on.

“You would think that Penistone would be seen as quite affluent but it has been hit just as hard as other areas.

In Text Promo Image

“People with mortgages and car loans and suddenly no income have been badly hit and turning to food banks to feed themselves and their children.

“This is a staggering figure that could rise in 2021. There should never be any stigma attached to this, it can happen to anyone.

“People are finding themselves in a bind from the bottom to the top of the income bracket.”

Barnsley Council bosses have launched a Covid-19 winter grant scheme using almost £1m of funding provided by the government, boosted by a further £300,000 of the local authority’s cash.

The scheme will provide support to vulnerable households across the borough over the winter months, focusing on households with children who are eligible for free school meals, including those in pre-school.

Families will receive a £15 voucher for each child for each week of the Christmas and February half-term holidays, while a one-off payment of £80 will be given to put towards fuel and energy costs for 6,500 households.

According to the government, the ‘essential’ scheme will allow councils to directly help the hardest-hit families and individuals, as well as provide food for children who need it over the holidays.

It comes after latest figures up to December revealed more than 5,000 hungry people were fed by the Barnsley Foodbank Partnership in 2020 according to shock figures - including 2,000 kids - with a quarter of those being handed vital supplies during the two spells of lockdown.

“Traditionally, we have not had much need of such facilities here in Penistone,” added Coun Greenhough.

”Going forward to 2021, the foodbanks are looking at massive demand. It is a very bleak picture.

“If you can donate food or money then please do, you will be doing something really good.”

Anyone who can’t get online can find their local foodbank’s details on 01226 235280.