“The Tories are truly deluded if they think that £12 billion worth of cuts will help prevent people relying on foodbanks” said Stuart McMillan MSP during a debate in the Scottish Parliament, as the UK Government’s austerity policies came under sharp focus.
The debate on foodbanks arose after recent statistics revealed that the number of emergency food parcels handed out by food banks in Scotland hit a record high last year. 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.
Speaking in the debate, Greenock and Inverclyde MSP Stuart McMillan said:
“For a parent to go to a foodbank to obtain food to either feed themselves or their family must be demoralising. For others to then demean those seeking assistance is nothing short of a disgrace and a total complete lack of compassion for others.
“Despite the narrative that more people are in work, clearly other factors are at play when we still have over a reported 100,000 people going to foodbanks. Anybody could find themselves in need of the foodbank. No one turns up at food banks because there is an opportunity for free food. They are driven there in sheer desperation
“In Inverclyde we are seeing an increase of 15% in the number of three-day emergency food supplies provided to local people in crisis in Inverclyde over the last year.
“That is 3,574 three-day emergency food supplies to local people in crisis during 2016-17. 935 went to children in 2016-17 as compared to 730 in 2015-16.
“Food poverty is a visible sign of the wider poverty that we are seeing as a result of seven years of Tory austerity and welfare cuts. There is the freeze on working benefits, and the six-week universal credit delay. The two-child policy, with its abhorrent rape clause, will cost families between £2,500 and £7,000 a year. The benefit cap affects at least 5,000 people in Scotland. All of this adds up to pushing more and more people into crisis.
“The UK Government’s failed ideology heaps more and more misery on those who are least able to withstand it, those who are in work or seeking work, the vulnerable, the disabled, the elderly and children.”