New statistics published yesterday by the Trussell Trust have revealed a 17% increase in the number of food bank parcels given out in Scotland between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018; higher than the UK-wide average increase this year of 13%.
The new data highlights the growing proportion of Scottish food bank referrals due to benefit levels not covering the costs of essentials, driving the increase in food bank use overall.
Polly Jones, Project Manager for A Menu for Change, said she was dismayed but not surprised by the Trussell Trust’s findings.
Polly said: “It is clear from our research with people using food banks, and these new figures, that the roll out of Universal Credit has plunged people across Scotland further into poverty and left them at the mercy of food banks and cash strapped local councils.
“People we’ve spoken to who are claiming Universal Credit have been met with a myriad of bureaucratic delays and administrative errors which has resulted in them waiting in some cases over two months, before they have money to buy basic essentials like food.
“Food banks should not be left to pick up the pieces of a failing safety net. We need to fix the safety net.
“It’s clear the UK Government should halt the roll out of Universal Credit until fundamental flaws in the system are addressed.
“In the meantime, the Scottish Government should do everything it can to alleviate the misery faced by claimants here, by maximising uptake of the flexibilities being applied to Universal Credit in Scotland, committing enough resources for councils to administer the Scottish Welfare Fund and investing in advice and support services.”