‘Grim reality’ of food aid from charities condemned by MSP

Shona Robison blamed UK welfare polices for the rising number of Scots being forced to turn to charities to feed their families.

Food parcels: Figures show increase
Food parcels: Figures show increase

The number of emergency food parcels handed out to hungry Scots by one charity has increased by almost 80% in four years.

In 2018-19 the Trussell Trust handed out 210,605 aid packages – an increase of 92,916 from the 117,689 food parcels it provided in 2014-15.

Meanwhile, independent food banks distributed at least 159,849 food parcels between April 2019 and March 2019, according to the Independent Food Aid Network.

SNP MSP Shona Robison blamed UK welfare polices for the rising number of Scots being forced to turn to charities to feed their families.

Ms Robison, who chairs the Social Justice and Fairness Commission set up by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, said: “There is no getting away from the fact the Tories’ welfare changes and cuts are to blame for rising poverty and debt, homelessness and the need for food banks.”

The Dundee City East MSP added: “The grim reality is that the poorest in our society are being forced to choose between feeding their families and heating their homes – something which DWP ministers have finally admitted to, but done nothing to fix.

“Under the Tories, poverty has risen dramatically, yet, day after day, Tory Government representatives obstinately refuse to acknowledge the turmoil their policies are causing and plough on with brutal cuts regardless.

“This new Tory Government must heed the warnings of frontline organisations all over the country, and act before more families and children and are pushed into poverty on their watch.”

A spokeswoman for the UK Department for Work and Pensions said: “The reasons for people using food banks are complex.

“We spend over £95 billion a year on working age benefits and Universal Credit supports more than 2.7 million people across the UK. It gives people financial help if they’re unemployed, low-paid or unable to work.

“People can get paid urgently if they need it and 95% of payments are made in full and on time. We’ve changed the system so people can receive even more money in the first two weeks than under the old system.

“Additionally in Scotland, people can choose to be paid twice monthly and have the housing element of their Universal Credit paid directly to their landlords.”

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