Emergency food requests rise on the back of the economic crisis
Campaigners have called for urgent support for low income families after figures showed a huge surge in foodbank use.
Foodbank use in April, following a huge surge in food aid in March, showed it was clear that current social security safety net measures were not enough to prevent poorer families being swept into destitution.
Figures from the Trussell Trust showed a 62% increase in emergency food parcels going to children from its foodbanks in Scotland.
Across the UK, it said it gave out 89% more food parcels in April, compared to the same month last year, while the Independent Food Aid Network (Ifan) recorded a 175% increase over the same period.
The number of families with children who received food parcels almost doubled in April compared to the same period last year, the Trussell Trust said, a rise it described as unprecedented.
A coalition of charities, including the Trussell Trust, IFAN, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), Children’s Society, Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), StepChange and Turn2us, is urging the UK government to act quickly in providing a stronger lifeline to families to prevent many children from being swept into destitution.
John Dickie, director of Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland said: “These new stats are horrifying and must act as a wake-up call to government at every level. No child should have to rely on charity food parcels yet thousands now are. These are families, in and out of work, that urgently need financial support to prevent the crisis that forces them to the foodbank.
“The UK chancellor must act with utmost urgency to increase family benefits, but here in Scotland ministers must also build on their welcome boost to the welfare fund with an immediate cash payment to all low income families and a commitment to extend free school meal cash replacements through the summer.”
A UK government spokesperson said: “We understand that this is a difficult time for people on low incomes and we’ve taken significant action to support those affected by coronavirus, including through income protection schemes, mortgage holidays and additional support for renters.
“For those most in need we’ve injected more than £6.5bn into the welfare system, which includes an increase to universal credit of up to £1,040 a year. No one has to wait five weeks for money as urgent payments are available, while some people may be eligible for a nine-month grace period where their income is not capped.”