Renfrewshire Council In Appeal To Ministers After Food Bank Figures Rise

9 December 2016, 05:47

The number of children relying on food banks in one council area has jumped by almost a quarter in just three months.

Renfrewshire Council leaders say the rise coincides with recent benefit changes and delays to payments.

Statistics compiled by the council show the number of children receiving food bank assistance has risen from 355 to 437 between July and September this year.

In total, 947 food bank vouchers were issued by the council to 72 families and 149 single parents.

Council leader Mark Macmillan is calling on the Scottish Government to help mitigate the impact of benefit changes.

He said: ''The UK Government's drastic welfare cuts are creating a perfect storm that is forcing more people and more families into poverty, which is simply unacceptable.

''I would urge the Scottish Government to use its devolved powers for the benefit of those who need it most and help tackle child poverty across all regions in Scotland to provide much-needed support and reassurance to those currently struggling on the breadline.

''It is clear that the UK welfare cuts are hitting the most vulnerable in our society the hardest.

''The Chancellor's recent Autumn Statement did little to address concerns by failing to end the freeze on child benefits or reverse planned cuts being introduced to in-work support under Universal Credit.

''Tackling poverty is a major priority for this council and we have strived to implement a number of initiatives through investment in our Tackling Poverty Programme to address the inequalities Renfrewshire faces.

''Hopefully the funds approved under the Renfrewshire Foodbank transport grant will help alleviate some of the financial strain experienced by families and others on low incomes in the region.''

The council said a £14,500 grant has been approved to help meet the transport costs of some families to and from food banks.

Elizabeth Alexander, project manager at Renfrewshire Foodbank, said: ''The changes in benefits and delays to payments are having a real impact on more children than ever before and we expect this situation only to worsen in the future.''

John Dickie, director of Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, said: ''CPAG's research shows that social security cuts, benefit delays and sanctions are some of the key drivers pushing up demand for food banks.

''While these problems are largely the result of UK Government policy, there is a need for all levels of government to act immediately to protect children and families from the scandal and stress of food poverty.''