Most Scots think food banks ‘sign of society failure’

The study was commissioned by Oxfam Scotland.The study was commissioned by Oxfam Scotland.
The study was commissioned by Oxfam Scotland.
More than four-fifths of people in Scotland believe the need for food banks is a sign that something is fundamentally wrong in society, according to new research.

The poll also found strong support for action to reduce the need for food banks in Scotland.

The study was commissioned by Oxfam Scotland and has been released on the day of a conference on food poverty and social justice being hosted by the Poverty Alliance in Glasgow.

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Oxfam said the polling found that 82 per cent of Scots believe there is something wrong in society if people have to use food banks. The figure across the rest of Great Britain was 75 per cent.

Foodbank office in Motherwell Business Centre.Foodbank office in Motherwell Business Centre.
Foodbank office in Motherwell Business Centre.

The polling also revealed higher recognition of the scale of the issue in Scotland than across the rest of Britain, with respondents more likely to say there are “many” or “very many” people in the UK who find it difficult to afford enough to eat.

In addition, 82 per cent of people polled in Scotland believe people should not need to use food banks - 10 per cent higher than the figure for the rest of Britain.

Nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of people in Scotland said it was important for the UK Government to take action in the next 12 months to help people using food banks.

Jamie Livingstone, head of Oxfam Scotland, said: “The people of Scotland are right - the fact that so many people in our rich country are left with no option but to turn to a food bank shows something has gone seriously wrong.

Opening of East Dunbartonshire FoodbankOpening of East Dunbartonshire Foodbank
Opening of East Dunbartonshire Foodbank

Food banks are a humanitarian response but they should not have to exist - everyone should have sufficient income to afford enough food and to pay for other essentials. There is no shortage of food in Scotland - this is about poverty.

“Not all power to tackle this problem rests at the Scottish Parliament but ahead of May’s Scottish election we want every party to outline detailed plans for how they will use devolved powers to help reduce food insecurity in Scotland year-on-year.

“This must be underpinned by improved monitoring of food bank use and wider food insecurity. It’s crucial we know and understand the full scale of this problem.”

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Data from the Trussell Trust, Scotland’s largest food bank provider, shows that food bank use in Scotland has increased to record levels, with more than 60,000 referrals over a six-month period.

Peter Kelly, of The Poverty Alliance, said: “In the short-term we need to ensure people who need food can access it but we also need to find long-term solutions to food poverty.

“Our politicians need to listen to the demand for higher incomes and more, secure employment.”

The research was conducted by Research Now in August and September.

It saw interviews carried out in Glasgow, Newcastle, London, Cardiff and Reading, followed by a survey of 1,890 people across Britain, including 533 responses in Scotland.