DWP and payday loans 'driving food bank use'

THE Department of Work and Pension and payday loan firms are pushing more people to use food banks, according to Citizens Advice Scotland.

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The organisation said it has seen 14 new cases a day this year from people who need help with food.

A breakdown of CAS clients needing charitable support, including food bank aid, showed 27% had dependent children and 22% were unable to work due to disability.

Men were most likely to apply, accounting for 60% of applicants, with one third were aged between 45 and 59.

In a written submission to the Scottish Parliament Welfare Reform committee, CAS said: "Evidence indicates that benefit delays and welfare reform are driving increased need for food parcels.

"Whether it is delays in payments, jobseeker sanctions, sickness benefit reassessments or the bedroom tax, welfare changes are placing a significant burden on many low income families and making it difficult to put food on the table."

It stated there were 220 sanctions a day applied to jobseekers in Scotland and also cited "poor administration" of the benefits system is a factor.

It added: "Another factor in the growth in demand for food parcels is the practices of payday lenders.

"A growing number of clients are turning to food banks after poor practice from a payday lender."

It told of a man on incapacity benefit who took out a loan, stating: "He took out a loan of £150 three months previously. He repaid it but was offered another loan.

"The client now owes £300 and is paying back £194 every two weeks from his income of £220 to roll the loan over.

"He does not have enough money left for food or power."

CAB said zero hours contracts were also a growing concern, leaving people with not enough wages to pay bills.

It mentioned a security guard whose working hours were cut and who has been using a credit card to pay his mortgage and bills and who it said is now at "crisis point".

Citizens Advice, Barnardos, the BMA and Oxfam are due to give more evidence today.

Neil Couling, Work Services Director, from the Department for Work and Pensions will then take questions from the committee on benefit sanctions."



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