Evidence that shows the link between the UK Government’s welfare reform and an increase in the use of food banks has been sent to Scotland Office Minister David Mundell MP by the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee.
This follows a call from Mr Mundell to show him evidence of the impact of these policies after he expressed doubt that an increase in food bank use was as a direct result of welfare reform.
Much of this evidence has now been forwarded to UK Ministers and the Department of Work and Pensions, however many benefit claimants declined to send in their cases for fear that they might be subject to unfair treatment and reprisals from the DWP if their identity is revealed.
Committee Convener Michael McMahon MSP said:
“The Welfare Reform Committee has amassed a growing volume of evidence documenting the impact of welfare reform on Scotland’s communities. We have now sent a further batch of evidence to Mr Mundell and the DWP. However, what we discovered during the course of our enquiries has surprised and saddened us. It is a sad state of affairs when vulnerable people are frightened to engage with the very system that is supposed to offer them support and care.”
Deputy Convener, Clare Adamson MSP said:
“UK Government ministers continue to turn a blind eye to the appalling impact that their welfare policies are having on some of the most vulnerable members of society. We have now provided Mr Mundell and the DWP with irrefutable evidence that benefits cuts and sanctions are driving people in ever greater numbers to seek the assistance of food banks and other charities.”
Committee’s letter to Rt Hon David Mundell MP.
David Mundell MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland, gave evidence to the Committee on 3 February 2015 (link to official report). The Committee first evidenced the link between welfare reform and food bank use in its report, published in June 2014.
The Committee has submitted a file of evidence to Mr Mundell and the DWP. To protect identities, this information is not being published. The Committee received evidence from a number of housing and third sector organisations acting on behalf of their clients, and MSPs on the Committee also brought forward case studies involving their constituents. Evidence includes benefits recipients who have been sanctioned and individuals whose benefits payments has been subject to delay, all of which has led to an increased demand on food bank services.