THE potential impact of a no-deal Brexit could be “catastrophic” for Oldham families already struggling to make ends meet, according to Pro-Remain group Best for Britain.

Demand for food banks has soared in Lancashire over the past year, with the Trussell Trust recording a 13 per cent increase in food supplies being handed out across the county, and 39 per cent of these handouts going to children.

The Trussell Trust gives out more food parcels in the North West than anywhere else in the country.

The Rev David Austin is a vicar at the Holy Trinity Vicarage in Oldham. His church supports the Oldham Food Bank and helps the Oldham Street Angels, who provide a hot meal for homeless people in the town centre.

It also provides a drop-in centre for lonely and isolated people as well as free refreshments and food parcels on request.

The Rev Austin warned that a no-deal Brexit could bring real hardship, telling Best for Britain.

He said: "The impact of Brexit will lead to food shortages and higher prices, which will affect these vital services which act as a lifeline and safety net for the worst off in society.

The Government’s own assessment of a No-Deal Brexit – codenamed Operation Yellowhammer – acknowledges that “Low-income groups will be disproportionately affected by any price rises in food and fuel”.

The Rev Austin also made clear that those struggling in society would be worst affected, saying: “I can foresee the supply of donated food being depleted as people have to make their money stretch further. This, of course, also affects those with severe disabilities, young families etc.”

Dr Martine Barons, director of the applied statistics & risk unit at the University of Warwick, conducted a study into the effect of Brexit on food prices. She found that, in the event of no-deal Brexit, a family of four could see the cost of their weekly shop rise by 24 per cent.

That would mean a weekly shop costing £93 pre-Brexit would end up costing consumers £115 after a No-Deal Brexit. Dr Barons told Best for Britain:

She said: “By doing some very careful analysis, we have shown that food prices are likely to rise, and possibly rise very substantially, which will have a huge effect on the numbers of families struggling to eat well, or in some cases at all.”

Best for Britain chief executive Naomi Smith said: “A rise of £22 in the cost of weekly shopping equates to more than £1,100 per year. That is likely to push many Lancashire families beyond their breaking point – and food banks could also reach breaking point.

“Anyone already struggling to make ends meet is going to find this sort of rise utterly catastrophic. It is shameful enough that, in the 21st century, anyone still has to rely on food banks.

“It is even more shameful that our Government is pushing to make the situation even worse, and for more people, by crashing Britain out of the EU with a No-Deal Brexit.”