New figures reveal foodbank use has doubled in the past five years

26 April 2019

Video: Holly McCormack

Trussell Trust releases the statistics which show a surge of 23% in the last year

Foodbank use has continued to rise in Scotland, according to new figures released by the Trussell Trust.

Regional breakdown for the financial year 2018/19 showed a total of 210, 605 emergency parcels distributed across Scotland.

The three-day emergency food parcels were split across 140,000 adults, with 69,000 going to children.

The Trussell Trust indicated that the top three reasons referrals were made to the charity in the past year were: in-work poverty where an income does not covering essential costs, changes to benefits and delays to receiving benefits.

Laura Ferguson, Scotland operations manager for the Trussell Trust, said: “What we are seeing year upon year is more and more people struggling to eat because they simply cannot afford food. A 200% increase in just five years is not right.”

Figures show a 23% rise on last year, and highlight a continuing upward trend in the use of foodbanks in Scotland. According to the Trussell Trust, the continued rollout of Universal Credit is a key driver behind increased use of foodbanks.

Ferguson said: “Enough is enough. We know this situation can be fixed – that’s why we’re campaigning to create a future where no one needs a food bank. Our benefits system is supposed to protect us all from being swept into poverty. Universal credit should be part of the solution but currently the five-week wait is leaving many without enough money to cover the basics.

“As a priority, we’re urging the government to end the wait for Universal Credit to ease the pressure on thousands of households. We are also urging the Scottish Government to ensure people’s access to food is at the heart of its Good Food National proposals.”

Mhairi Black, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, previously stated in parliament that foodbanks are not part of the welfare state, but a symbol that the welfare state is failing.

Ferguson continued: “Ultimately, it’s unacceptable that anyone should have to use a food bank in the first place. No charity can replace the dignity of having enough money to buy food. That’s why in the long-term, we’re urging the Government to ensure benefit payments reflect the true cost of living and work is secure, paying the real Living Wage, to help ensure we are all anchored from poverty.”

Infographic: The Trussell Trust

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) refuted the claim that Universal Credit is responsible for the growing use of foodbanks. In an article for BBC online, a spokeswoman from DWP said: “It is not true to say that people need to wait five weeks for their first payment. Universal Credit is available to claimants on day one. It cannot be claimed that Universal Credit is driving the overall use of foodbanks or that benefit changes and delays are driving growth.”

She added: “The trust’s own analysis shows a substantial fall in the share of parcels being issued due to benefit payment delays. The best route out of poverty is to help people into sustainable employment which, with record employment, we are doing.”

The Glasgow Sloth recently reported on community fridges, which are helping people who need additional food, as well as helping reduce food waste.

Eat Up, a charity launched last year, aims to take food waste from local businesses and distribute it to local projects, including community fridges. They also work with the student’s union at the University of the West of Scotland. Its aim is to combat the ongoing issue of food waste.

Tommy Reid, founder and co-chair of the charity, said: “We are looking to help communities in general. Whether that is growing your own food, understanding food or cooking classes then we will do them as I think that is a contribution to stabilising things, so we are using our knowledge to contribute to helping people out.

“We don’t want to see anything food being thrown out. Waste food, or food as we call it, we want it all from the supermarkets that nobody else is using and then get it into our depots and then our shops and crucially out to the people.”

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