Figures refute Tory MSP's claims on falling foodbank use

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 8 November 2018 in News

Speaking in a debate on poverty earlier this week, Whittle denied the rollout of Universal Credit was causing rising demand for foodbanks

Glasgow foodbank - image credit: Danny Lawson/Press Association

Claims from Tory MSP Brian Whittle that his local foodbank has seen a drop in use have been refuted by figures from the centre itself, which show demand had actually increased by 12 per cent in the year following the introduction of Universal Credit.

Speaking in a debate on poverty earlier this week, Whittle denied the rollout of Universal Credit was causing rising demand for foodbanks by pointing to his local centre, in Ayrshire East, which he claimed had seen a 30 per cent drop in use.

But responding to questions from Holyrood, the foodbank said its most recent figures show use was actually up by 12 per cent, and that the 30 per cent figure quoted by Whittle dated from 2016/17, a year before the local rollout of Universal Credit.

Figures from the Trussell Trust show that, on average, foodbanks have seen a 52 per cent increase in demand a year on from the introduction of Universal Credit.

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament chamber, Whittle said: “East Ayrshire is in my South Scotland region. When I visited its food bank centre recently, we were informed that the centre has managed to reduce the use of the food bank by 30 per cent. That message is not getting out. The centre has managed to gather services, including the DWP, so that, when someone meets the eligibility threshold, they understand what help is available to them and that all the help that should be available to them is available to them.

“We should be learning from the different approaches across all areas. As I said, the message about the work that is under way is not getting out, because it does not fit in with certain political rhetoric and agenda.”

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