Mundell 'Must Hold Food Bank Talks'
10 November 2014, 06:04
A Holyrood committee has called on Scotland Office Minister David Mundell to keep a promise to meet food bank providers.
Mr Mundell told the Welfare Reform Committee at a meeting in June that he would meet with representatives from food banks.
In a letter to the Tory minister, committee convenor Michael McMahon said that, despite repeated attempts, officials had been unable to contact Mr Mundell's staff to make arrangements.
Mr McMahon said: "It is time David Mundell put his words into action and does what he has said he will do. The UK Government is in denial on the impact of its welfare reforms on some of the most vulnerable of our citizens. People deserve the opportunity to put their views and experiences directly to the minister.''
Deputy Committee Convener Jamie Hepburn MSP said: "The committee has heard some very personal and difficult experiences from people struggling to cope with the UK Government's reforms to the welfare system.
"David Mundell owes it to food bank providers and their users to hear their concerns directly. It is shocking that he and his Government continue to exist in a state of denial on the impact of its welfare policies.''
The committee has also asked Mr Mundell to provide a response to the committee's report on the local impact of welfare reform, and to provide feedback to the committee on meetings about welfare reform issues.
MSPs had been considering the potential link between the rise in the use of food banks and the UK Government's welfare reforms.
A Scotland Office spokesman said: "This is a confused and contradictory statement from the Welfare Reform Committee.
"The minister said in his appearance at the committee in June and again in a letter last month he would undertake meetings with stakeholders and witnesses on the use of food banks and write back to the committee with his findings.
"This process began with a meeting with Oxfam and will continue in the weeks ahead.
"We hope that once Mr Mundell's series of meetings is completed we can work constructively with the committee again in the months ahead rather than them seeking to make public political capital out of this issue.''