MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde, Stuart McMillan, has blasted the latest foodbank statistics in Scotland which indicate that foodbanks in areas of full-service Universal Credit have seen a 30% average increase in six months after roll-out compared to a year previous.
The figures released by The Trussell Trust, a charity which is working to eradicate UK hunger, suggest that the six-week wait for UC has seen foodbank demand soar across Scotland and the pressure will only increase in the lead-up to Christmas.
The Trussell Trust also reported a 20% increase in three-day emergency food supplies given to people in crisis in the first half of this year compared to the same period in 2016 – a total of 76,764 of which 24,142 went to children.
Speaking on the issue, Mr McMillan said:
“I recently highlighted that foodbank usage in Inverclyde has rocketed since the introduction of Universal Credit in the area. While this is not the only factor at play, the agonising six-week wait at least to receive these benefits has certainly made an impact.
“It’s unreasonable to expect individuals to be able to afford to live without any income for this amount of time, which is why I’ve urged the UK Government to reconsider the full-service rollout.
“On the day that the Living Wage Foundation announces a 30p increase to the UK rate, it’s poignant that even having an income doesn’t protect people from circumstances which mean they need to rely on foodbanks.
“People on a low income, which refers to anyone in work or on benefits struggling to get by, accounts for 26% of foodbank referrals, suggesting certain pay and benefit levels are not safeguarding individuals from falling into crisis.
“More so than this, as winter time approaches people are forced to juggle the costs of heating their homes and putting food on the table which will ultimately put more pressure on foodbanks as they try to ensure no one goes hungry this Christmas.
“I’m therefore urging my constituents to donate what they can to our local foodbank, and to remind them that they can do so by handing in items to my office.”