Rise in food bank use ‘shows need for benefits changes’

Trussell Trust food banks handed out 237,225 three-day emergency packages in Scotland during 12 months before March.

Rise in food bank use ‘shows need for benefits changes’ Getty Images

A charity’s figures showing a three-fold rise in the use of food bank parcels over seven years demonstrate the need for urgent action on benefits, the SNP has said.

The Trussell Trust’s network of food banks handed out 237,225 three-day emergency food packages in Scotland during the 12 months before March 2020.

The figure has risen each year since 2013/14, when it stood at 72,487.

SNP MSP Bob Doris said people were falling through the gaps of UK Government welfare schemes.

Doris said: “Food banks are working incredibly hard to continue to provide emergency food safely to people who cannot afford to buy the essentials – but they cannot continue to pick up the pieces because of gaps in the UK Government’s support schemes.

“While the Scottish Government has done its best to tackle poverty here, we continue to have to spend money to protect the most vulnerable in our communities from Tory cuts.

“The majority of welfare spending still remains firmly in the hands of the Tories – who dithered and delayed on extending free school meals through the holidays and had to be shamed into supporting low-income families through this pandemic.”

He continued: “This UK Government must heed the warnings of front-line organisations all over the country, and act before more families and children and are pushed into poverty.

“Making the £20 uplift to Universal Credit permanent and extending it to legacy benefits would be a good place to start rebuilding the security system the Tories have spent years dismantling, and preventing the number of families relying on food banks from increasing further.”

A UK Government spokesman said that this year, spending on working-age welfare was at its higher ever level, while the economy would be assessed again in the new year.

He said: “We are committed to supporting the lowest-paid families across the UK through the pandemic and beyond and have provided more than £100bn in welfare support this year.

“Meanwhile, Scotland has significant devolved welfare powers and can top-up existing benefits, pay discretionary payments and create entirely new benefits altogether.”

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