Citizens Advice Scotland have endorsed the findings of a survey published today by Oxfam which shows that many Scots are struggling to cope with rising food bills.
Among its findings, the Oxfam survey reports that 1 in 20 Scots have been forced to skip meals altogether because they can’t afford them, and 1 in 4 are having to buy lower quality food (a larger proportion than any other part of the UK).
In response, CAS Head of Policy Susan McPhee said,
“This report paints a very bleak picture of the way people in Scotland are having to live, but unfortunately we can confirm that it’s an entirely accurate one. Scottish CAB advisers see evidence every day that is fully in line with these findings.
“Many people who come to the CAB are struggling to feed themselves and their family. It’s not just the fact that food is becoming more expensive. It’s also the fact that peoples’ incomes are falling. This ‘double whammy’ means that many families are having to make decisions every day about how much they can afford to spend on ‘essentials’ like food and fuel. Often they are having to ration their meals, or go without them altogether.
“People who are in debt are among the worst affected. 2 in 5 of Scottish CAB debt clients have told us that they regularly go without food or fuel in an effort to pay off their debts. Parents often talk of how they forego meals themselves in order to provide food for their children. It’s shocking, but it’s not un-common.
“It’s important that people know that help is available. In response to the growing demand, we are now working with the Money Advice Service to provide people with free, confidential advice on how to manage their finances. Anyone who is interested can make a Money Advice appointment through their local CAB.
“But while we and other charities will continue to do all we can to help individuals who are struggling, the problem really needs to be addressed at a more fundamental level. The government needs to accept the full extent of this crisis, and understand the grim reality of life for many Scottish families. The figures in the Oxfam survey are not exaggerated. They are an entirely accurate picture of how Scots are living today. So we call on Ministers to accept this and consider the impact their policies are having on people – in particular the Welfare Reform Bill, which is taking money away from those who are already struggling on the lowest incomes.”
For interviews etc., please call Tony Hutson on 0131 550 1010. NB This is the number of the CAS Press Office, for use by journalists only. If you are a member of the public looking for CAB advice please contact your local bureau.