MSPs are to be told of demand for food banks

FOOD bank organisers will tell MSPs of the growing number of people who are looking for help to feed their family.

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The Trussell Trust which operates food banks in Glasgow will give evidence to the Scottish Parliament Welfare Reform committee.

MSPs have been hearing from tenants, benefit claimants, disabled people and social landlords on how the UK Government welfare reforms have affected people on various types of benefit whether working or otherwise.

The Committee wants to find out if there is a connection between the welfare reforms and the growing demand for food banks.

Members of the committee have been visiting food banks in their own constituencies to see the work carried out.

Deputy convener Jamie Hepburn visited the Bethlehem House of Bread food bank in Cumbernauld, Ken Macintosh saw work at food banks in Thornliebank and Barrhead and Newlands and Linda Fabiani went to see Loaves and Fishes in East Kilbride.

The committee will hear from volunteers and representatives from the Trussell Trust, Fare Share, British Red Cross, Aberdeen Foodbank Partnership, Loaves and Fishes, Community Food Moray and Heriot Watt University.

Michael McMahon, committee convener said: "We have been concerned for a while about the sharp escalation in demand for food banks.

"But with a lack of official information about food bank usage in Scotland, we want to get to the facts of the matter, from the people staffing the food banks and supporting our most vulnerable. We all value their work but it is beyond the pale that our society needs them to step in and help feed our fellow citizens."

A report commissioned by the UK Government concluded it was difficult to make a definite link between the welfare cuts and more people seeking help at food banks.

But it did find low incomes, unemployment and benefit delays together have led to the increase in people looking for help. A UK government minister said the increase was supply led rather than because of greater need, but the report found food banks were used as a last resort when there was no access to cash.

Jamie Hepburn, deputy convener of the committee, said: "Citizen's Advice Scotland recently reported their highest number of referrals to food banks, the majority of which were owing to issues relating to the benefits system, and this tallies with what the food banks in my own area report to me. Yet the UK Government continues to say there is no link between welfare reform and the use of food banks."

stewart.paterson@eveningtimes.co.uk

Food and drink

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