MSPs urge UK to look at need for food banks

Michael McMahon said the UK government was insulting poor. Picture: Alan Watson
Michael McMahon said the UK government was insulting poor. Picture: Alan Watson
Share this article
Have your say

The UK government is being told by MSPs to stop “ignoring” the evidence showing a link between welfare reform and the growing use of food banks.

Labour and SNP politicians said they were convinced of a direct link after carrying out an inquiry into the UK government’s changes to the benefits system.

The two parties reached the conclusion in a report by 
Holyrood’s Welfare Reform Committee.

It follows claims by Department for Work and Pensions official Neil Couling that poor people use food banks to maximise their economic potential.

He also told the committee last month that many people who face benefit sanctions welcome the jolt it can give them.

Committee convener Michael McMahon, a Labour MSP, said: “The UK government can no longer ignore the evidence that their welfare reforms are having a real impact on people’s ability to feed themselves. There can be no place for this in a modern, prosperous nation, just as there should be no need for food banks.

“Our evidence showed some low-paid workers need to access food banks. This makes it even more insulting for them to insist that people using food banks are anything other than in desperate need of help.”

Food bank co-ordinators the Trussell Trust says it recorded a 400 per cent increase in people using its food banks over three years. The total shot up from 5,726 in 2011-12 to 71,428 in 

The criticism is contained in the committee’s report on welfare reform. The group’s only Tory member, North East MSP Alex Johnstone, would not put his name to key claims linking sanctions to increased use of food banks.

The claim was also rejected by the UK government.