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Welfare reforms linked to food bank demand

The UK Government is being told to stop "ignoring" the evidence showing a link between welfare reform and a growing use of food banks.

Labour and SNP politicians say they are convinced of a direct link after carrying out an inquiry into the UK Government's changes to the benefits system. The parties reached the conclusion in a report by Holyrood's Welfare Reform Committee.

This follows claims by Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) official Neil Couling that poor people use food banks to maximise their economic potential. He also told the committee last month many people who face benefit sanctions welcome the jolt it can give them.

Committee convener Michael McMahon, a Labour MSP, said: "Our evidence showed some low-paid workers need to access food banks. This makes it even more insulting for them to insist people using food banks are anything other than in desperate need of help. Help the welfare system should be providing, not charities.

"Allowing this Dickensian model of welfare to take root is simply unacceptable"

Food bank co-ordinators the Trussell Trust says it recorded a 400% increase in people using its food banks over three years.

SNP politician Jamie Hepburn, the committee's deputy convener, said food banks are a response from the community to people in need. "The UK Government needs to ensure it does not start to weld them into the welfare system," he said.

A spokesman for the DWP said: "The truth is employment is going up, benefits are being paid to claimants more quickly and independent experts tell us there are fewer people struggling with their food bills compared with a few years ago."

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

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