Another Food Bank Opened by Welfare Reformist

David Mundell, Conservative MP and Secretary of State for Scotland, opened Scotland’s 50-something-th Trussell Trust food bank in Dumfries today, up from just 1 food bank in 2009. Mundell still denies that there is any link between the UK Government’s welfare reform and the growth of food banks.

Meanwhile providers of emergency food such as the Trussell Trust and other food banks are unequivocally pointing to evidence that sanctions and delays to welfare payments, stemming from the Coalition Government’s reform of welfare in 2012, are two of the greatest causal factors of the increase.

The Poverty Alliance and the Poverty Truth Commission have long been reporting that even before reform our welfare system has been insufficient to meet people’s basic needs with food often being the first to be cut in household budgeting. Likewise the declining value of the minimum wage has resulted in large numbers of people being in-work and food insecure; not knowing whether they will have enough food to meet their dietary needs.

The UK wide governmental failure to measure how many people are experiencing food insecurity has made it difficult to truly understand the extent to which people are poorly nourished or going hungry outside of the numbers who are relying on food banks.

The further £12bn cuts to welfare announced in George Osborne’s budget earlier this month will only further exacerbate this situation; welfare reform has pushed the most vulnerable in Scotland from food insecurity to destitution.

Nourish calls on our politicians to reverse the attack on our social safety net which disproportionately affects the most vulnerable. We ask that every person in Scotland is able to cover their basic needs through a fair welfare and support system and a genuine living wage, both of which are informed by the real cost of living.

The growth of food banks is a sticking plaster to the ill of food insecurity. Food banks take the pressure off of Mundell and the Conservative Government to accept that we have a real problem with food insecurity in our nations of plenty. We want to see a food system in which we all have access to nutritious and sustainably sourced food as a matter of right rather than relying on the kind but often inappropriate charity of food banks. Food banks are a symptom of welfare reform, not a solution to it.

By Elli Kontorravdis, Nourish Policy & Campaigns Officer.