Charity: increased food bank use linked to welfare cuts

A speech by the chairman of Glasgow-based food bank, Loaves and Fishes, to the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee has been circulating on social media recently.

The powerful speech by Denis Curran was made as part of a Welfare Reform Committee hearing about possible links between the Westminster government’s welfare reforms, and an increase in food bank usage.

Mr Curran told the committee about food bank users who had walked miles to access the service because they could not afford transport. On a fact-finding visit to a Dunfermline foodbank, MSP Annabelle Ewing said she had met someone who had walked 12 miles from Ballingry to reach the foodbank.

Mr Curran  added that some families request food which can be eaten cold as they are unable to pay for electricity in order to cook.

Foodbank provider the Trussell Trust has reported that between April 2013 and February of this year, 56,000 people used its services, up from 14,318 the previous year.

Mr Curran highlighted popular misconceptions about why people use food banks:

“There seems to be a fallacy out there that it is misused, and that it’s greed,” he said.

“It is easier to say they are thieves, liars, cheats and layabouts – that they misuse the benefits system.”

“Powers that be – it is time you woke up to reality. We don’t need meetings to decide if benefit cuts have got something to do with a rise in foodbanks.

“The situation is people are being penalised for being poor.”