This week we have learned that one of Scotland’s largest and busiest food banks (in Renfrewshire) has been gifted new premises to help it cope with increased demand.
Then we learn of Labour’s shadow minister for work and pensions, Rachel Reeves MP, on a visit to Glasgow last week, referring to David Cameron as the “food bank Prime Minister”.
Unfortunately, for many the use of food banks has become an everyday occurrence and for many a great community asset between the volunteers and generosity of those who donate.
But what is the message from the politicians to those on both sides of the counter in our food banks as we approach this general election?
We have all seen the impact on our communities from five years of the Conservatives, with the Lib Dems’ assistance, and they have committed to even greater cuts should they be elected.
Then we have Rachel Reeves and the Labour Party, promising to spend £35 million a year in Scotland tackling poverty. It sounds reasonable until you look at Labour’s record in opposition, which includes proposals to means test pensioners’ winter fuel allowance, freezing child benefit and voting with the Conservatives to impose more welfare cuts on vulnerable and disabled people
Food banks exist as a direct result of welfare and austerity cuts and the vulnerable in our society have more than paid their share.
They deserve politicians with an agenda of social justice, sadly not on offer from any of the previously mentioned.
Catriona C Clark
“Households with the lowest incomes are bearing a greater burden from public spending cuts”, says cabinet secretary for social justice Alex Neil (your report, 24 March), implying the fault lies entirely elsewhere.
Mr Neil’s government runs its own form of means-tested benefit, which is grants for students in higher education. Last year it cut these by 40 per cent, or £35 million.
Many at the lowest incomes saw their grant more than halved. Mr Neil acknowledges that the poorest families already “have very few financial assets”. The Scottish Government would be better placed to criticise the impact of welfare cuts if it hadn’t itself chosen to push the only low-income group to which it directly provides support either into greater hardship or more debt.
Lucy Hunter Blackburn