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Home  >  News  >  Inquiry Call on Food Poverty

News

Inquiry Call on Food Poverty

The Church of Scotland has backed calls for an urgent Parliamentary Inquiry into ‘the scandal of food poverty in 21st century Britain’.

A report released today by Church Action on Poverty and Oxfam warns that more than half a million people in Britain have received aid from food banks in the past year.

The two charities, with the backing of the Trussell Trust, are calling for an urgent Parliamentary Inquiry into the relationship between benefit delay, error or sanctions, welfare reform changes, and the growth of food poverty. They are asking their supporters to speak out in support of the call.

Sally Foster-Fulton, Convener of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland said: “People going hungry anywhere in a world where there is more than enough food is an indictment on society and a wake-up call for those of us coasting comfortably within the status quo. The fact that in the UK people are pushed into food poverty exposes the vast inequality we are willing to live with.

“Two campaigns supported by the Church of Scotland are the ‘If’ campaign (‘Enough food for everyone if...’)  and ‘The Lies We Tell Ourselves ... Comfortable Myths about Poverty.’ They challenge us, in the church, to speak and act out against this appalling injustice.”

The report, Walking the Breadline, highlights causes of the increase in use of food banks: changes to the benefit system, unemployment, increasing levels of underemployment, low and falling income, and rising food and fuel prices. Changes to the benefit system are the most common reasons for people using food banks; these include changes to crisis loan eligibility rules, delays in payments, Jobseeker’s Allowance sanctions, and sickness benefit reassessments.

Niall Cooper, Church Action on Poverty CEO and the report's lead author, said: “The safety net that was there to protect people is being eroded to such an extent that we are seeing a rise in hunger. Food banks should not be replacing the ‘normal’ safety net provided by the state in the form of welfare support.”

The Trussell Trust, which is the biggest provider of food banks in the UK, had last month reported that more than 350,000 people turned to their food banks for help in the last year, almost triple the number who received food aid in the previous year. However, this new report is warning that the actual figure receiving food aid could be more than half a million people, as there are many non-Trussell food banks, and hunger is not being monitored properly by the Government.

The report is available at www.church-poverty.org.uk/foodfuelfinance

At last week’s General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Church and Society Council was instructed to investigate the issue of food security in Scotland.

The Rev Stuart Sharp, minister of Falkirk: Camelon, who is chairman of his local food bank, told the Assembly: “In four months, we have provided food to over 1000 people. 40 per cent of them are children. They are not shirkers or skivers as some would label them. They are often people in work.”


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