The Trussel Trust said the rise in the number of people using foodbanks in the UK is “terrifying” as new figures reveal that Glasgow saw a massive rise over the last year. Although reliance on foodbanks has risen across Scotland, Glasgow has seen the highest rise in numbers with 9678 people requiring assistance, including 4015 children, up from 659 the previous year. The number is likely to be “the tip of the iceberg” as there are many more groups across the city, and indeed the country, providing emergency food aid than are counted in the figures reported by the Trust.
The issue of rising food poverty has been taken up by religious leaders and faith groups who are calling on the Government to take action to deal with the issue in an open letter which was quoted in the Guardian this week:
“The letter said the period running up to Easter had been a time of “sorrowful and deep reflection” for people of all faiths on what it calls the terrible rise in hunger in Britain, and urged society to “begin rising to the challenge of this national crisis”.”
Benefit sanctions have been reported by 83% of foodbanks as one of the main reasons that increasing numbers of people are having to turn to them, while benefit delays and cuts, low incomes and rising living costs are making the problem worse. A recent report by the New Policy Institute reports that multiple welfare cuts are harming tens of thousands of the poorest families and that the UK Government is in fact changing the nature of welfare. They argue that the concept of the safety net is failing and that reductions in a person’s income can be based on their particular circumstances, or where they live, due to measures such as the bedroom tax and changes to Council Tax Benefit entitlement and call for the Government to instate an absolute minimum level of support, which should be high enough for people not to have to survive on the breadline.
The Trussell Trust reports that across the UK 913,138 people received three days’ emergency food from their foodbanks in 2013-14