Political parties seize on figures showing rising numbers dependent on foodbanks across the UK
Figures showing nearly one million Britons are using foodbanks have been seized upon by political parties ahead of the election.
Official figures from the Trussell Trust – the UK’s biggest foodbank operator - showed the number of people given three days' emergency food rose from 2,814 in the 2005-06 financial year to 61,468 in 2010-11, 346,992 in 2012-13 before jumping sharply to 913,138 in 2013-14 – including 582,933 adults and 330,205 children.
It amounts to a 618% rise in the number receiving emergency food aid from the trust in the past three years.
Labour has jumped on the figures, as surveys show the main reason people rely on foodbanks are due to delays in receiving state benefits as well as changes to benefits made by the Conservatives.
Rachel Reeves, shadow work and pensions secretary, has written to Prime Minister David Cameron challenging him to promise to reduce the number of people using food banks during the next parliament in 2015-2020.
UK government cuts and welfare sanctions are having a devastating impact on communities across Scotland - Stewart Hosie MP
“Under your government, too many working people are being paid so little that they can’t afford to feed their families – with 1.5 million more in jobs paying less than the living wage and a huge rise in the number of people on zero-hours contracts.
“And too many people who should be supported by our social security system are being let down by it – with delays in benefit payments, unfair benefits sanctions and the bedroom tax pushing people to the doors of foodbanks,” the letter reads.
Last year the Trussell Trust, which runs a network of over 400 UK foodbanks across the UK, published a report showing numbers turning to foodbanks are continuing to rise despite economic recovery, and more people are struggling to get by because their incomes are too low.
SNP depute leader Stewart Hosie MP said the latest figures are alarming, and show how desperately Scotland needed an alternative to the Westminster cuts consensus.
"UK government cuts and welfare sanctions are having a devastating impact on communities across Scotland – pushing 100,000 more of our children into poverty and forcing more families to have to rely on foodbanks,” he said.
“Yet, the UK government is committed to making the same mistakes with the economy all over again. The Tories, along with Labour, have voted for an extra £30 billion of cuts still to come.
“The question for Labour and the Tories - the pro-cuts parties - is how many more food banks have to open before they change their misguided policies of further cuts?"