Foodbank use points to fundamental flaw in Scots society

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Public believe use of foodbanks reveal flaws in how we provide for those on low incomes 

10th December 2015 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Low income families’ reliance on food banks shows society has gone “fundamentally wrong” a new poll has revealed.

Research commissioned by Oxfam Scotland says there is strong support for action to reduce the need for foodbanks in Scotland.

Some 82% of those polled said they believe there is something fundamentally wrong with society if people have to use food banks. The figure across the rest of Great Britain was 75%.

The polling will be highlighted at a national conference today (10 December) in Glasgow hosted by The Poverty Alliance which will hear from people fighting food poverty and will put forward new solutions to combat the growing problem.

The polling also reveals higher recognition of the scale of the problem in Scotland than across the rest of Great Britain with respondents more likely to say there are ‘many’ or ‘very many’ people in the UK who find it difficult to afford enough to eat.

Jamie Livingstone, head of Oxfam Scotland, said: "The people of Scotland are right – the fact that so many people in our rich country are left with no option but to turn to a food bank shows something has gone seriously wrong. 

Foodbanks are a humanitarian response, but they should not have to exist - Jamie Livingstone

“Foodbanks are a humanitarian response, but they should not have to exist – everyone should have sufficient income to afford enough food, and to pay for other essentials. There is no shortage of food in Scotland – this is about poverty.

"Not all power to tackle this problem rests at the Scottish Parliament but ahead of May’s Scottish election we want every party to outline detailed plans for how they will use devolved powers to help reduce food insecurity in Scotland year-on-year.

“This must be underpinned by improved monitoring of foodbank use and wider food insecurity – it’s crucial we know and understand the full scale of this problem.”

There is no systematic measurement of food bank use in Scotland, or across the rest of the UK.

However, data from the Trussell Trust – Scotland’s largest foodbank provider – shows foodbank use in Scotland has increased to record levels, with more than 60,000 referrals over a six-month period.

Research has suggested that gaps in the social security safety net – including delays, errors and sanctions – are the key reason why people turn to food banks.

Peter Kelly of The Poverty Alliance added: "The growth of foodbanks in recent years is the surest sign that we need to do more to tackle poverty in Scotland.

"In the short-term we need to ensure people who need food can access it, but we also need to find long term solutions to food poverty. Our politicians need to listen to the demand for higher incomes and more, secure employment."