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Emergency Food Fund: no-one wants people needing food aid

11 Aug 2014

Commenting on the Scottish Government announcement today that 26 projects have been awarded funding from the Scottish Government’s Emergency Food Fund, CAS Policy Manager Keith Dryburgh said,

“We know that many Citizens Advice Bureau work with local food aid organisations to ensure our clients can access food aid. We are delighted that both Dumfries and Galloway Citizens Advice Service and Citizens Advice Edinburgh have been successful in their bids in the large project fund as have other bureaux in smaller projects in Glasgow and Midlothian to support this work.

“However we cannot be pleased at the reasons this fund is necessary and that so many families on fixed and low incomes are having difficulty putting food on the table.

“Food aid is a new and growing issue for CAB across Scotland with one in 50 clients now receiving advice on food parcel issues. We can point to a number of different factors which have contributed to this growing crisis including sanctions to peoples’ benefits, reassessments to disability and sickness benefit and poor administration of benefits. This is both policy and processes that need to be addressed. 

“The evidence from our bureaux shows that people from all walks of life can experience a crisis that necessitates a food parcel referral. However this is an issue disproportionally affecting people out of work and who rely upon the state as a safety net. One in 12 unemployed CAB clients needed a food parcel, and of CAB clients unable to work due to a disability, one in 26 needed a food parcel.

“In addition, the immediacy and severity of the situation for many clients has put significant pressure on bureaux which have had to urgently amend their advice provision and make vital links with local sources of free food in order to meet the immediate needs of clients who cannot afford to eat.

“There are many organisations across Scotland that provide vital support to those experiencing food poverty, whether it is through advice, income maximisation, charity support, or access to food. Without support from these organisations, the consequences for thousands of people in food poverty would be far worse - which is why we welcome the Emergency Food Fund. However, we believe that the most effective action on this issue must focus on addressing the causes of food poverty. Change must focus on ensuring that claimants do not fall through the benefits safety net so people are not in crisis in the first place.

“CAB can help people access food parcels when they turn to us for help but we would prefer they were never in a position where they cannot feed themselves or their families.”

Between January and March 2014, citizens advice bureaux in Scotland recorded 1,311 new food parcel issues – this equates to one food parcel issue for every 50 clients who received advice. Extrapolating this figure to the number of clients that seek advice at bureaux suggests that bureaux advise on over 5,500 food parcel issues in a year.

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