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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.

Foodbank use in Scotland hits record amount

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Problems with benefits is leading scores more people to seek emergency food aid

People using foodbanks in Scotland has soared as new figures show a 20% rise in the last year.

A record 76,764 three-day emergency food supply packs were given to people in need in the first half of 2017 according to the UK’s biggest network of foodbanks – the Trussell Trust.

The charity blames problems stemming from the universal credit for the increase, calling for urgent action to improve the system.

The scheme is replacing the multiple benefits claimants receive, but there is a six-week delay between the claim and the first payment, which the trust says must change urgently.

Issues with benefits represent the biggest cause of referrals to a foodbank in Scotland, accounting for about 42% of cases, according to the trust.

Scotland director of the trust Tony Graham said: "In the first half of this year a record number of people facing destitution and hunger have been referred to The Trussell Trust food bank network in Scotland.

"Foodbanks will be working hard to provide dignified, non-judgmental support to people but we are concerned that the ongoing impact of welfare reform - especially UC roll-out - combined with increased demand we traditionally see over winter will leave food banks struggling to feed everyone that comes through the doors."

He added: "Not only would it be morally wrong for us to become a de facto arm of the welfare state - if welfare reform and UC roll-out continues unchanged, we simply would not be able to catch everyone that falls."

A DWP spokesman said: "The reasons for foodbank use are wide and complex, and for this report to link it to any one issue would be misleading.

"We're clear that advance payments are widely available from the start of anyone's UC claim, and urgent cases are fast-tracked so no-one should be without funds.

"We know the majority of UC claimants are confident in managing their money.

"Budgeting support and direct rent payments to landlords are also available to those who need them."