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DWP is ignoring the impact of cuts say MSPs

This news post is about 10 years old

Increased foodbank use is directly related to welfare cuts says Holyrood committee

A Holyrood committee says theDepartment for Work and Pensions (DWP) is ignoring the fact that rising demand for foodbanks is a direct consequence of welfare cuts.

A report by the Scottish Parliament’s welfare reform committee said changes to the welfare system have resulted in a significant rise in the use of the foodbanks in Scotland.

The committee says there has been a 400% rise in people using foodbanks in 2013/14 compared to 2012/13.

Allowing this Dickensian model of welfare to take root is simply unacceptable. Ignoring the problem cannot be part of the solution - Michael McMahon

Evidence gathered from charities including Oxfam Scotland and theBritish Red Cross, foodbank providers, and Heriot Watt University point to a direct link between welfare cuts and foodbank use, the committee's latest report states.

Despite this, when giving evidence to the committee earlier in the year, DWP official Neil Couling denied the link and said that poor people use food banks to maximise their economic potential.

Committee convener and Labour MSP Michael McMahon said the UK government can no longer ignore the evidence that welfare reforms are having a real impact on people's ability to feed themselves.

"There can be no place for this in a modern, prosperous nation, just as there should be no need for food banks," he said. "Our evidence showed some low paid workers need to access foodbanks.

"This makes it even more insulting for them to insist that people using foodbanks are anything other than in desperate need of help. Help the welfare system should be providing, not charities.

"Allowing this Dickensian model of welfare to take root is simply unacceptable. Ignoring the problem cannot be part of the solution."

A spokesman for the DWP said: "This report isn't based on solid evidence, but on the opinions of those interviewed.

"The truth is that employment is going up, benefits are being paid to claimants more quickly and independent experts tell us that there are fewer people struggling with their food bills compared with a few years ago."