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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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Westminster Holds 'Hunger Debate'

Wednesday, 18 December 2013


23,000 SCOTS –INCLUDING 7,000 CHILDREN– RECEIVING EMERGENCY FOOD AID

The UK Parliament will today (Wednesday) debate the rise of hunger and use of food banks in the UK, following a successful online campaign.

The petition on change.org which reached over 140 000 signatures, calls for parliament to debate the causes of UK hunger- ‘and to ask why, in modern Britain, food bank use is escalating so rapidly.’

The number of people relying on food banks to survive in the UK has tripled over the last year, with more than 23,000 Scots – including 7000 children – receiving emergency aid from a Trussell Trust food bank. Child Poverty Action Group have said the recent Autumn Statement ‘creates a new income rationing system for children, working families and disabled people through a national cap on their basic support’ and ‘once again it’s the poorest who are being asked to pay down the lion’s share of deficit reduction.’

Commenting ahead of the debate, Scottish National Party Westminster spokesperson for Work and Pensions Dr Eilidh Whiteford said:

“The UK government needs to wake up to this crisis.

“Danny Alexander and Alistair Carmichael have been happy to have themselves photographed smiling at the opening of local food banks, so at least now they will have to come and explain to Parliament why their policies are causing a surge in their use.

“The figures produced by the Trussell Trust, which runs 400 food banks across the UK, are alarming. The Trust have said a third of those being helped were children, and the problem was so severe that some people using food banks have started to hand back items that need cooking, as they cannot afford to use the energy. The Red Cross have also been helping with food aid in the UK - for the first time since the Second World War.

“Child Poverty Action Group have recognised that the cumulative effect of the UK government’s spending decisions are highly regressive, and are hitting the poorest, hardest.

“Meanwhile Westminster has been shunning responsibility. Conservative minister Lord Freud provoked outrage in July when he questioned whether there were "causal connections" between the rise of food banks and government austerity policies. In September Education Secretary Michael Gove was accused of being "out of touch" when he appeared to suggest that families using food banks were responsible for their own predicament.

“New Scottish Secretary of State Alistair Carmichael couldn’t even tell the Scottish Parliament’s Health Committee last week why so many children were being pushed into poverty as a result of his coalition’s cuts.

"While the UK government continues down this road, making the poor poorer, and the anti-independence No campaign tries to tell the people of Scotland that this is as good as it gets, more than ever it is clear that only a Yes vote next September can make Scotland a fairer country to live, work and raise a family."

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