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Irony overload as Tory MP opens a foodbank

This news post is almost 9 years old

​Campaigner slams charities for inviting Scotland's only Tory MP to open Dumfries foodbank

Scotland’s only Tory MP is to open a foodbank in Dumfries – despite his party being blamed for creating most of its clients.

Scottish secretary David Mundell, Conservative MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale, will open the foodbank, a joint venture between the Trussell Trust and Apex Scotland, on Friday (24 July) in the town's Apex Centre.

The centre is just yards from the First Base Agency, another charity-run foodbank, which in February blamed Tory party policies for driving people to use emergency food outlets, a claim Mundell said “should be taken with a pinch of salt.”

His response at the time provoked outrage from opposition MSPs on Holyrood's Welfare Reform Committee.

It's a bit like turkeys putting on Christmas hats and firing party poppers – Peter North

"The three issues that are most commonly raised in relation to foodbanks are sanctions, delays in benefit payments and low income. I do not accept that those three issues are welfare reform issues," he told them.

Trussell Trust figures released in April this year reveal more than 117,000 referrals were made in Scotland for emergency food parcels in the last financial year – a 63% increase.

And the charity maintains the biggest driver for referrals to its foodbanks is UK government welfare cuts.

Ewan Gurr, Scotland network manager for the Trussell Trust, said: "Like many small rural towns, Dumfries has seen the impact of the rising cost of food and fuel, insecure nature of employment and welfare reform, which has created financial hardship for many individuals and families throughout the entire local authority of Dumfries & Galloway.

"The Trussell Trust is pleased to work with Apex Scotland given their shared commitment to partner with organisations working with people in crisis and complement the other food providers available in Dumfriesshire.

"The new foodbank will provide nutritionally-balanced emergency food to people referred by local statutory and voluntary organisations, who will help tackle the underlying causes of poverty related primarily to benefit delays, benefit changes and low income."

However Peter North, who is a vocal welfare cuts campaigner in the borders, slammed both the Trussell Trust and the Apex Centre for inviting Mundell to open the foodbank.

"It's a bit like turkeys putting on Christmas hats and firing party poppers," he said. "Let's be clear: the Conservatives are creating this poverty, poverty forcing people to get emergency handouts. Why on earth these charities invitied him is a mystery and is a massive PR disaster."

The Apex Centre works with other agencies to identify people in crisis and in need of support.

Its co-ordinator Fiona Dalgleish said she expected the new facility to be well used.

“The foodbank in Dumfries will be an absolute necessity to support local people and help them break the cycle of poverty,” she added.