By Paul Cassidy
Research carried out by A Menu for Change and the Independent Food Aid Network has shown a 22% rise in the total number of food parcels handed out in Scotland in the last 18 months. Between April 2018 and September 2019, nearly 600,000 food parcels were handed out in Scotland; that works out at over 1,000 a day on average.
In West Dunbartonshire requests have increased by 40% between September 2018 and September 2019, from 15,894 to 22,317. In Argyll and Bute requests have increased by 18% from 7,915 to 8,509 within the same time period.
The research shows that inadequate and unsure incomes are pushing people to become food insecure. With a social security safety net which is no longer catching people and people working on contracts paid below the Real Living Wage seen as driving factors.
MSP Jackie Baillie said: “It’s a sad fact that poverty is on the increase and its shocking that there has been a 40% increase in West Dunbartonshire and an 18% increase in Argyll and Bute foodbank usage in the last year. Local working families are struggling to make ends meet and are being forced to ask for food parcels, just to get by.
“We have even seen locally the threat to West Dunbartonshire foodshare who were being forced to pay £22,000 in rent to the Council out of their annual grant of £25,000. Yet the demand for the service they provide is constantly increasing.
“Much of the responsibility for the rise rests with the failed policies of the Tory government in Westminster, but the Scottish Government has not helped either. The Scottish Welfare Fund since starting in 2013 has been frozen, which represents a real-terms cut. The Scottish Government has the power to change the devastating impact of Tory cuts, but their unwillingness to do so means adults and children across West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute are being failed every day.
“Action needs to be taken now to reverse the continuing rise of foodbank dependency. The UK Government need to bring in a Real Living Wage and restore the value of key benefits and the Scottish Government need to increase the Scottish Welfare Fund, so that people in West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute are able to access the help they need.”