South of Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has hit out at the UK government after they refused to address her concerns about the rising use of food banks.
The Westminster government is continuing to ignore the link between welfare cuts and rising food bank use – despite a 400 per cent increase in the number of people relying on food banks in Scotland in the past year.
In a reply to a letter from SNP MSP Joan McAlpine, UK Employment Minister Esther McVey claimed there is “no robust evidence that welfare reforms are linked to increased use of food banks”. This is despite a previous admission from another UK Government Minister that harsh cuts to benefits were to blame.
Under Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell told the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee in June “there isn’t any doubt” that some people have been forced to go to food banks “because they have been subject, for example, to sanctions or delays in receiving benefits”.
Mr Mundell also stated he wanted the UK Government to produce an analysis on food bank use – but this has not yet been done.
The letter from Ms McVey also praises Universal Credit – despite the fact its roll out has faced numerous delays and the system will disadvantage women. Women in Scotland already bear the brunt of Westminster welfare cuts, with research from the House of Commons Library finding 60 per cent of the impact falls on them.
Joan McAlpine said:
“This latest letter from Esther McVey confirms that the Westminster government has no intention whatsoever of facing up to the damage they are causing with harsh, unfair welfare reforms.
“Despite David Mundell’s admission three months ago that he believed the UK Government should carry out analysis on food bank use, no action has been taken. Instead, Ms McVey buries her head in the sand - ignoring the plight of thousands across the country who can’t afford put food on the table because of the actions of her government.
“Universal Credit has faced delay after delay – and once implemented it will disadvantage women. Women across Scotland are already bearing the brunt of Westminster’s welfare reforms – with analysis showing that 69 per cent of the impact of cuts falls on them.
“Westminster has shown time and time again that it cannot be trusted with welfare. It is time for the Scottish Parliament to have the powers we need to make Scotland a fairer, more equal country and address the causes of inequality.”