The number of emergency food parcels handed out by food banks in Scotland hit a record high last year, according to new statistics.
The Trussell Trust says its food banks provided more than 145,000 packages to people in crisis in 2016-17.
It marks a 9% increase on the previous year – a trend the charity blamed on benefit payment problems and low incomes.
The Trussel Trust reported that during the last financial year Inverclyde Foodbank provided, on the basis of referral, a three day emergency food supply to 3,574 men, women and children. This is an increase of 15% from last year year. Inverclyde Foodbank was created in 2012, and has helped over 15,000 people since then.
The Trussel Trust’s new report, Early Warnings: Universal Credit and Foodbanks, highlights that although the rollout of the new Universal Credit system for administering benefits has been piecemeal so far, foodbanks in areas of partial or full rollout are reporting significant problems with its impact.
Commenting, Greenock and Inverclyde Stuart McMillan MSP said:
“Today’s latest figures from the Trussell Trust are absolutely devastating – and bring into sharp focus the disastrous impact of Tory austerity on our communities.
“After seven years of Tory rule they continue to take a slash and burn approach to wages, public services and cutting the vital social security safety net – resulting in more and more people being forced to turn to foodbanks in order to survive.
“The fact 3,574 men, women and children in Inverclyde had to rely on these emergency supplies is simply heart-breaking, and proof that the Tories cannot be trusted to govern in the interests of those most in need of security, shelter and care.
“The effect of a 6 week waiting period for a first Universal Credit payment can be serious, leading to foodbank referrals, debt, mental health issues, rent arrears and eviction. These effects can last even after people receive their Universal Credit payments, as bills and debts pile up.
“Tory failures are driving this increased demand for foodbanks – and voters must take their chance in June’s election to send a clear message to this toxic and nasty Tory party that their divisive, extreme and ideologically-driven austerity obsession that is destroying our communities will not be tolerated here.”