Massive rise on foodbank reliance blamed on political polices against low income Scots
Shocking new figures show over 100,000 Scots have now become reliant on foodbanks – a 65% rise on the previous year.
And a leading charity has warned the figures are just the tip of the iceberg as hard up Scots face increasingly draconian welfare cuts.
Over 1 million Britons are now using foodbanks – a figure that has been seized on by political parties with Labour saying they provide proof Conservative policies discriminate against working families.
Statistics from the Trussell Trust reveal that, in the 2014/15 financial year, 117,689 people – including 36,114 children – received a three day supply of emergency food from one of the charity’s foodbanks in Scotland.
In the financial year 2014/15, 33,408 people used a Trussell Trust foodbank in Scotland due to a benefit delay, 24,609 people due to low income and 20,387 (17%) due to a benefit change.
Compared to the previous year, the percentage referred due to a benefit delay remains unchanged, but there is a 2% increase in referrals due to low income and a 2% decrease in referrals due to a benefit change.
Low income shows the biggest numerical rise as 24,609 people were referred in 2014/15 compared with 13,552 in 2013/14 – an increase of over 80%.
Ewan Gurr, the trust’s network manager for Scotland, said that despite welcome signs of economic recovery, hunger continues to affect significant numbers of men, women and children.
And he warned: “The full extent of the problem could well be much wider as the Trussell Trust figures do not include people who are helped by other food charities or those who feel too ashamed to seek help."
He added: “Trussell Trust foodbanks are increasingly hosting additional services like debt counselling and welfare advice at our foodbanks, which is helping more people out of crisis. The latest figures highlight how vital it is that we all work to prevent and relieve hunger in the United Kingdom.
“It is absolutely crucial that we listen to the challenges of those using foodbanks to truly understand the nature of the challenges people face.
“The experiences of those who experience hunger is the key to the finding a solution.”
UK-wide figures from the charity show one million Britons are now using foodbanks amounting to a 618% rise in the number receiving emergency food aid from the trust in the past three years.
Rachel Reeves, Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, has written to Prime Minister David Cameron challenging him to promise to reduce the number of people using food banks during the next parliament in 2015-2020.
“Under your government, too many working people are being paid so little that they can’t afford to feed their families – with 1.5 million more in jobs paying less than the living wage and a huge rise in the number of people on zero-hours contracts.
“And too many people who should be supported by our social security system are being let down by it – with delays in benefit payments, unfair benefits sanctions and the bedroom tax pushing people to the doors of foodbanks,” the letter reads.
Last year the Trussell Trust, which runs a network of over 400 UK foodbanks across the UK, published a report showing numbers turning to foodbanks are continuing to rise despite economic recovery, and more people are struggling to get by because their incomes are too low.
SNP depute leader Stewart Hosie MP said the latest figures are alarming, and show how desperately Scotland needed an alternative to the Westminster cuts consensus.
"UK government cuts and welfare sanctions are having a devastating impact on communities across Scotland – pushing 100,000 more of our children into poverty and forcing more families to have to rely on foodbanks,” he said.