Foodbanks are a “Dickensian throwback” says MSP

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Ewan Gurr of the Trussell Trust.

The Trussell Trust has launched its 50th foodbank - but what does this say about society?

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30th August 2016 by Graham Martin 1 Comment

Foodbanks are not a cause for celebration – but a grim symbol of the hardship caused by welfare cuts and Tory austerity.

That's the view of an SNP politician who spoke out after the Trussell Trust opened its 50th emergency food outlet in Scotland.

While welcoming the work the charity does, Sandra White MSP said foodbanks represent a “depressing throwback”.

White, the convener of the Scottish Parliament’s social security committee and whose Glasgow constituency will be served by the foodbank, said: “The fact that foodbank use continues to grow is a damning indictment of the UK government’s record which should leave the Tories deeply ashamed. 

Foodbanks do an excellent job but the fact they even exist is a depressing throwback to Dickensian times

“While foodbanks do an excellent job of providing for those who need it, the fact that they even exist is a depressing throwback to Dickensian times – and the Scottish Government is forced to spend £100 million a year mitigating the worst excesses of Tory welfare cuts.

“With new limited power over disability benefits, we have the opportunity to put respect and dignity at the heart of a Scottish social security system.

 “But the key drivers of foodbank growth – sanctions, maladministration and cuts to benefits – will remain controlled by a Tory government that have shown themselves to be completely disinterested in the human impact of their cuts agenda.”

However, Ewan Gurr, the Trussell Trust’s Scottish network manager, urged caution over the language used to describe foodbanks.

He said: "The Trussell Trust believes that a robust social security system is crucial if we are to decrease the number of people going hungry in Scotland but we must be careful to avoid language that could increase the shame people feel when they use a foodbank.

"Like trade unions, which tackle the injustice of unethical employment practices, foodbanks tackle the injustice of food poverty and we must remember that the existence of food poverty in the UK is the scandal, not the work of foodbanks alleviating it."

The Trussell Trust is the largest provider of emergency food in the country and it issued more than 130,000 supplies of food in 2015/16, an increase from 117,689 in the previous year.

Its foodbanks are now operating in 28 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities, the last, opened earlier this month in Shetland

The 50th will operate in Glasgow’s Townhead area, at the C7 church.

What do you think? Are foodbanks a "depressing throwback" or do they represent the best of the third sector? Leave a comment below.

30th August 2016 by Simon Gordon

I have always been uncomfortable about foodbanks, admirable as they may be, and the effort put into them by the third sector etc. They have no place in the fifth richest economy in the world. Fairer distribution of wealth , proper taxation, rather than philanthropy, should be the way forward in providing a sensible welfare system. The opening of the 50th FB is an achievement of which Trussel can be proud; but the need for any foodbanks at all in Britain is a national disgrace.