Government to discuss growing need for food banks

SNP MSP Stuart McMillan will today lead a debate in the Scottish Parliament expressing concern regarding the increasing number of people in Scotland relying on foodbanks.
The most recent figures for Scotland estimate that more than 55,000 people are relying on emergency food aid, with research indicating that more than a third of people who do so are experiencing some form of benefit delay.
Commenting, West Scotland MSP Stuart McMillan said:
“The way communities have come together to set up foodbanks and support people in need has been absolutely inspiring and we owe these people a huge debt of gratitude.
“However, in 21st Century Scotland, it is ridiculous that anyone should suffer from food poverty.  The UK Government’s welfare cuts have thrown some of the most vulnerable people in Scotland into poverty and SCVO has made clear that the application of retrospective sanctions has made matters worse.
“However, it is not just those who are unemployed who are suffering.  Growing numbers of people who rely on foodbanks are in work, demonstrating the problems caused by underemployment and low pay.
“In an independent Scotland, the Scottish Government would set up a Fair Work Commission, to ensure that the minimum wage rises at least in line with inflation every year, and would have the powers to create a welfare system that works for Scotland and ensures our most vulnerable people aren’t penalised.
“A fair welfare system and fair pay will mean that an independent Scotland can finally end the scandal of food poverty and ensure that reliance on foodbanks becomes a thing of the past.”
Ewan Gurr, Scotland Development Officer at the Trussell Trust, welcomed the debate. He said:
“The Trussell Trust foodbanks have provided food to almost 50,000 people in Scotland since April 2013 which is almost four times the number in the entire previous financial year. Rising food and fuel prices, insecure employment and static incomes are among the main reasons increasing the pressure low income individuals and families across Scotland face on a daily basis.
“We, therefore, welcome cross-party support and applaud the efforts of the Scottish Government to bring the issue of foodbanks to the fore. We are pleased that these conversations are taking place and attempts are being made to identify creative solutions that will help ensure the men, women and children of Scotland need not struggle to put food on the dinner table.”
Plans are already underway to set up a food bank in Wester Hailes, although we have not yet been advised that it has begun operations.
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