This website uses cookies for anonymised analytics and for account authentication. See our privacy and cookies policies for more information.

The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Financial insecurity driving more people to foodbanks

This news post is almost 7 years old

People using foodbanks face extreme financial insecurity and are struggling with rising food and housing costs, research by the University of Oxford has revealed.

The study also finds that half of households referred to foodbanks include a disabled person, while mental health problems affecting one in three households.

Commissioned by The Trussell Trust, which runs a network of over 420 foodbanks in the UK, the research is the biggest nationwide study on foodbank use to date.

It looked at more than 400 households referred to foodbanks, the data collected on demographics, income levels, living conditions, health, and food insecurity provides unparalleled new detail about both the circumstances of people referred to foodbanks and the key drivers of foodbank use.

David McAuley, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said: “Last year, our foodbank volunteers provided 1.2 million emergency food supplies to people in crisis.

"This pioneering research confirms to us what those volunteers have been telling us: every day they are meeting people trying to cope with low, insecure incomes and rising prices that mean even the smallest unexpected expense can leave them destitute and hungry – be that an unexpected bill, bereavement or the loss of income caused by benefit delay.

"Particularly concerning are the very high numbers of disabled people or people with mental health problems needing foodbanks."

The report found people were experiencing multiple forms of destitution.

While 50% had gone without heating for more than four days in the past 12 months, 50% couldn’t afford toiletries, and one in five had slept rough in the last 12 months.

Over 78% of households were severely, and often chronically, food insecure, the study found.

Dr Rachel Loopstra, lecturer in nutrition at King’s College London and lead author of the report, added: “The stories emerging from foodbanks across the country have surprised and shocked many people but until now, we have not been able to put them in a numerical context.

"Our survey data show how people using food banks are unable to ensure they always have enough food to eat because their incomes are too low and too insecure.

“We observed how commonly income or expenditure shocks, whether arising from a delay in receiving a benefit payment, from a benefit sanction, or from rising energy costs, tipped households into food bank use.

“But these shocks, and resulting food bank usage, occur among people who live with extremely low incomes and chronic food insecurity, where meeting basic needs is an ongoing struggle.

"The severity and chronicity of food insecurity and other forms of destitution we observed amongst people using food banks are serious public health concerns.”