New figures show that more people living in Scotland have reported being worried about running out of food in the past year, and campaigners say it reinforces the need for stronger action to stop people needing to turn to emergency food aid.
The Scottish Government’s annual Health Survey reports an increase to nine per cent of people in Scotland facing food insecurity in the last year, compared to eight percent in the previous year.Low pay, insecure work and issues with social security all contribute to food insecurity.
A Menu for Change – a partnership project involving the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, Nourish Scotland, Oxfam Scotland and the Poverty Alliance – says it is completely unacceptable for so many people to be facing food insecurity because of low income.
The project has previously welcomed plans to bolster social security through a new Scottish Child Payment as this will help to prevent food insecurity for many families by topping up their incomes by ten pounds per week per child.
However, the Scottish Government’s annual Health Survey also shows 21 per cent of adults under 65 living alone are worried about running out of food due to a lack of money or resources. These single-person households will not be covered by the Scottish Child Payment.
A Menu for Change is, therefore, calling for an increase in the Scottish Welfare Fund to better help all those who fall into crisis. The Fund’s budget has remained the same since its introduction in 2013, representing a real-terms cut.
Between 2018-19, 43 percent of all Crisis Grants awarded – 107,855 grants – were for people running out of food. Over half of all Crisis Grant recipients since the Scottish Welfare Fund was introduced are single-person households.
A previous report by A Menu for Change revealed a mixed picture of Scottish Welfare Fund delivery across Scotland and stated that its budget needed to be increased so that it can do more to reach the full number of people being pulled into crisis.
In the eighteen-month period between April 2017 and September 2018, figures collated by A Menu for Change showed that 480,583 food parcels were distributed by both Trussell Trust and independent food banks across Scotland – nearly double previously reported figures.
Margaret MacLachlan, Project Manager at A Menu for Change, said: “Right now in Scotland, too many people are being pulled into food insecurity because of low income, and if we are to make progress in stopping the need for food banks, the safety net must be strengthened for everybody.
“A weakened social security system, low pay and insecure work are forcing people to crisis point. While the Scottish Child Payment will be a welcome lifeline for families who are struggling financially across Scotland, many people turning to emergency grants live on their own and won’t be helped by this new benefit.
“The UK Government must act urgently to fix Universal Credit and uprate working-age benefits but Scottish Ministers can and should act too by also increasing the Scottish Welfare Fund, which has faced a real-terms cut in its budget since 2013, so the support is there for those who need emergency help.
“In a rich country like Scotland, one which has committed to ending hunger for everyone, no-one should be worrying about where their next meal is coming from. We can and must do better to ensure those who run out of money – whether they have a family or live on their own – can access the cash they need, so they do not run out of food.”
Contact: Alice McNaugher, Media and Communications Officer Oxfam Scotland on +44 0141 285 8874 / 07880785159 or AMcNaugher1@oxfam.org.uk
NOTES TO EDITORS
- A Menu for Change is a partnership project run by Child Poverty Action Group Scotland, Nourish Scotland, Oxfam Scotland and the Poverty Alliance and funded by the National Lottery Community Fund. It aims to tackle the causes of food insecurity by working in communities and providing practical evidence-based research.· The Scottish Health Survey can be downloaded here, and last year’s here.
- Statistics on food bank use in Scotland taken from a report from March 2019 A Menu for Change and The Independent Food Aid Network. Download the report here.
- Statistics on the Scottish Welfare Fund are taken from the annual Scottish Welfare Fund Statistics report from the Scottish Government:
- Between the fund’s introduction in 2013 and March 2019, 133,970 single person households received Crisis Grants;
- Household Type (Table 62) and Reason for Award (Table 48) Download the report here.