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Scottish families forced to rely on charity handouts: report paints picture of 'dickensian' Scotland

Thousands of people in Scotland are being forced to rely on charities for food handouts, according to new evidence from Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS).

The report published today (Tuesday) shows that the numbers of Scottish CAB clients who have made a charitable application has doubled over the last 2 years to 2,200.

The report also finds that:

  • Charities who provide emergency food parcels have themselves reported significant increases in clients. e.g. the Trussell Trust alone gave out food parcels to over 128,000 people (UK-wide) in 2011/12 – that’s more than double the number in the previous year.

  • Most of those who need these services are low-income families who are experiencing some sort of crisis point, whether it is unemployment or losing benefit entitlement.

  • Evidence suggests that the impact of the welfare changes will make the situation even worse over the next few years.

Publishing the report, CAS Chief Executive Margaret Lynch says,

“The report reveals a Dickensian situation facing many of Scotland’s low paid workers and people who rely on welfare benefits.

“Charities like the Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul have always been there to provide practical assistance for families facing a crisis who temporarily could not feed themselves. In this recession, there has been an exponential increase in the number of working families and people on benefits who are needing help to feed their children and themselves.

“The National Minimum Wage has failed to keep pace with the massive increase in food prices over the last 5 years leaving many low income families facing food insecurity. The fact that 50% of those getting food parcels are working is shocking.

“The fact that the remaining 50% who rely on food parcels do so because their benefit payments are delayed or because of changes to their benefits entitlement is both avoidable and disgraceful.

“Sadly this indignity is about to be inflicted on many more of our fellow Scots as welfare changes begin to bite.  The welfare state was set up to provide a safety net from cradle to grave. The safety net has been withdrawn, and the task of feeding the poor once more falls to the Churches and Charitable organisations whose philanthropy once helped to feed the poor of the industrial revolution.”