SNP Euro MP Alyn Smith joined West Scotland MSP Stuart McMillan on a visit to a foodbank yesterday [Monday] to highlight the increasing dependency on foodbank usage and how the Westminster government is failing Scots through its ‘draconian’ policies towards Scotland.
The most recent figures for Scotland estimate that more than 55,000 people are relying on emergency food aid, with more than a third of people doing so due to the benefit delay by the Westminster government.
The visit came on the back of a vote in the European Parliament in which support funding was agreed for Europe’s most vulnerable was agreed, however due to the Westminster government’s posturing, the whole of the UK will only receive 3.5 EUR, compared to the 500m EUR allocated to Spain, and 443m EUR to France.
Commenting on the visit, Alyn Smith – who is standing for a third term as Member of the European Parliament this May – said:
“Across Scotland we are seeing increasing numbers of people being forced to turn to foodbanks, which is extremely worrying. At the Inverclyde Foodbank alone, almost 2000 vouchers have been issued, feeding around 3500 people since this place opened in 2010.
“It’s incredibly worrying and disappointing to see the need for foodbanks in the 21st century. It is pretty shameful indictment of the UK government’s draconian welfare reforms which are forcing Scots to go cap in hand to local foodbanks like this one in Inverclyde.
“The UK Government is failing Scots across the country and also failing at an EU level. Their continued EU-phobia and posturing has cost the most vulnerable in our society through their refusal to support EU funding aimed at helping the exact people who are using foodbanks.
"Funding through the Food Distribution Programme provides vital help to people in poverty across Europe. As a result of Westminster cuts to welfare, there has been a 170% rise in foodbank use across Scotland between 2012 and 2013. Westminster’s baffling decision to oppose this EU support is an insult to those already suffering as a result of Tory/Lib Dem efforts to dismantle the welfare state.“We cannot continue to be represented in Europe by a Westminster government that threatens to rip us out of the EU and actively lobbies to move funds away from our most deprived citizens – we must be able to stand up for Scotland’s interests.”
SNP MSP Stuart McMillan, who led a debate in the Scottish Parliament at the start of February highlight the issue of increase foodbank use, added:
“The way communities have come together to set up foodbanks and support people in need has been absolutely inspiring and we owe these people a huge debt of gratitude.
“In an independent Scotland, we would have the powers to create a welfare system that works for Scotland and ensures our most vulnerable people aren’t penalised. The current approach of ‘slash and burn’ by the UK government is causing misery across the country and I would encourage any Tory or LibDem minister – should they be brave enough – to actually come and see first-hand, the impact of their decisions being forced on Scotland.
“A fair welfare system and fair pay will mean that an independent Scotland can finally end the scandal of food poverty and ensure that reliance on foodbanks becomes a thing of the past.”