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Shock as one in 50 Citizens Advice Bureau clients require help to get food

29 Apr 2014

New analysis by Citizens Advice Scotland has shone light onto the deeply uncomfortable reality lived by thousands of people in Scotland.  Between January and March this year, the issue of not having enough money to buy food was raised 1,311 times by clients.  That equates to one in every 50 Citizens Advice Bureau clients,

Ahead of appearing in front of the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee to talk about this issue, Keith Dryburgh, CAS Policy Manager and author of a new ‘Voices from the Frontline’ report on food parcels and the benefits system said, 

“Citizens Advice Bureaux are used to being a port of call in crisis, but this issue is a new and growing one.  We can point to a number of different factors which have contributed to this growing crisis; and despite an admirable response from community groups, the root causes remain unresolved. 

“Sanctions to peoples’ benefits, reassessments to disability and sickness benefit and poor administration of benefits all seem to be drivers of this problem. This is both policy and processes that need to be addressed.  While anyone can suffer a crisis that sees them end up looking for a food parcel, 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. 

“What also concerns us is that the system seems mechanical in dealing with human beings.  We have clients who have had their benefits removed or not paid without a full explanation. Often, sanctioned clients have valid, reasonable explanations for why they have not completed what was required of them. For example one CAB client did not receive benefits and needed help to access a food parcel after his benefit forms were lost not once but twice by the DWP. 

"CAB can help people access food parcels when they turn to us for help. However what we actually need is for people not to be in crisis in the first place and to never be in a position where they cannot feed themselves or their families.” 

ENDS

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