Angela Crawley MP for Lanark and Hamilton East has challenged the UK Government over its record on food banks following a report that food bank use reached a new record high in 2016/17, with over 1.18 million three-day emergency food supplies given out in the past year across the country.
The report, jointly published by Trussell Trust Foodbank Network, Oxford University and Kings College London, is the first UK-wide survey of its kind, with more than 400 households using 18 Trussell Trust food banks in England, Scotland and Wales surveyed.
The report found that all food bank users had, in the last month, an income well below the threshold for low income.
More than a third of households had experienced an “income shock” in the past three months, and more than two thirds reported unexpected rises in household expenses during the same period.
Half of those surveyed reported their incomes were unsteady from week to week or month to month, and half of households included someone with a disability.
Lone parents and their children constituted the largest number of people receiving help from food banks, though single male households were the most common household type for those using food banks.
More than 78 per cent were found to be “severely food insecure,” requiring the help of a food bank every month or almost every month during the past 12 months.
It was found also that food bank users experience multiple forms of destitution – 50 per cent had gone without heating for more than four days in the past 12 months, and one in five had slept rough in the past 12 months.
Ms Crawley said: “the Trussell Trust report paints a damning picture of the state of the welfare system in our system.
“That food bank use is so high it shows the safety net that should be provided by the UK Government is failing people in crisis.
“Food bank volunteers do a commendable job of providing food packages, but it is not enough for government not to address the problems that have led to their increasing use.
“Theresa May’s government seems to take the view that food banks are a cheap way to outsource welfare – this is morally wrong and helps no one escape from poverty.”