Rise in food bank use requires action says Greens

Thursday May 3rd 2018

Midlothian Food Bank Tins

Figures from the Trussell Trust, showing that 2,943 in Midlothian were provided with three-day emergency food supplies from this one food bank charity alone, highlight the urgent need to implement the Scottish Greens’ ten-point plan to tackle poverty, says an MSP for the party.

Alison Johnstone, MSP for Lothian, says the figures, which also show that 5,760 children in Edinburgh received these three-day food packages, are a “national scandal” and that citizens in a rich country like the UK shouldn’t be reliant on charities to provide vital food aid.

The 2017/18 figures provided by the Trussell Trust also reveal a rise from 2016/17, where 14,924 people in the City of Edinburgh were given their assistance. Across Scotland, 170,625 of their three-day emergency food supplies were given to people in crisis, with 55,038 provided for children, a record rise say the charity.

Alison Johnstone MSP said:

“It’s a national scandal that in Scotland in 2018, so many people cannot afford to eat, and these figures offer an insight into the volume of support provided by the Trussell Trust, while other charities are also dealing with huge demand for assistance.

“In the Scottish Parliament we’ll do everything we can to make sure newly devolved powers are used to support those who are left without income as a result of UK benefit delays. Scotland is a wealthy country and no one here should be in such a dire financial situation that they cannot afford to eat.

“This is the harsh reality of what Tory economics does to people in the City of Edinburgh and Lothian. Food banks shouldn’t be the last line of defence; they simply don’t have the resources to continue providing their services on such a large scale. The Left Behind report, along with these damning figures, provides further evidence of the misery that Universal Credit is causing so many people. The report’s recommendations have the support of the Greens and much of it chimes with our ten-point plan to tackle child poverty and our calls to end sanctions.”

The Scottish Greens’ ten-point plan:

1. Healthier, Wealthier Children: Funding for midwives and health visitors to help parents in financial difficulty access the benefits and financial help they’re entitled to.
2. Top-up Child Benefit: Increasing Child Benefit by just £5 would lift 30,000 children out of poverty.
3. Uprate Benefits in line with inflation: Green amendments to the Social Security Bill that would have automatically uprated all forms of assistance were rejected.
4. Scrap the Benefit Cap: The cap has removed thousands of pounds a year from 2,700 families in most need. Mitigating this should be a priority for the Scottish Government.
5. End the ‘Two Child’ limit on Tax Credits and Universal Credit.
6. Support Carers: Government has adopted the Green manifesto pledge of a young carers grant but the level is still below what is required.
7. Poverty Proof the School Day: Expand free school meals, improve school clothing grants.
8. Tackle High Cost Credit: Support community initiatives so people aren’t forced to turn to rent-to-own stores and doorstep loans.
9. Pay benefits automatically: People entitled to benefits should receive them without having to apply repeatedly, or through multiple systems.
10.Universal Basic Income: Follow pilot projects in Glasgow and Fife closely, and continue to research the option of a minimum income standard.

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