Ministers have been told they are “in denial” after a series of charities told a committee that the government’s harsh new benefits regime is driving food bank use.
Written submissions from bodies such as Oxfam and Barnardos to a Scottish Parliament committee, whose report on food banks is published today, emphasise DWP’s culpability. But heartless employment minister Esther McVey still claimed three weeks ago that there is “no robust evidence linking food bank usage to welfare reform”.
“No robust evidence” apart from that academic study commissioned by the Scots Government …
“Providers who participated in the study were in agreement that welfare reform, benefit delays, benefit sanctions and falling incomes have been the main factors driving the recent trend observed of increased demand for food aid”
… and what everyone involved with provision of emergency food aid told the committee:
“An increasing number of people are being referred to foodbanks because they have been sanctioned for what some frontline professionals have described as ‘trivial reasons'” — Trussell Trust
“Cuts to the levels of welfare support such as cuts to housing benefit entitlement … Delays in getting benefits, combined with a stricter sanction regime for claimants” — Barnardos
“Since the changes to the benefit system, requests for food parcels have increased by more than fifty per cent” — Christian charity Loaves and Fishes
“Bedroom tax causing people to have debt problems because they cannot afford the additional costs … Sanctions on benefits causing people to seek additional help” — Community Food Moray
“More people are coming to food banks as they are subject to delays in payment of benefit, sanctions by Job Centre Plus, have exhausted their savings to pay the bedroom tax …” — Community Food Initiatives North East
“It is clear that many people turning to emergency food banks are experiencing some sort of benefit delay or sanction.” — Oxfam Scotland
McVey has turned down a request for a public meeting with the committee.