Welfare Reform Committee 1

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Charities and advice organisations told MSPs there is a link between welfare reform and the rise in food bank use in Scotland, on 29 April 2014.

Last year, UK Work and Pensions Minister Lord Freud said the growth in food bank provision pre-dated the welfare reforms, so there was no evidence of a "causal link".

Witnesses discussing the issue before the Welfare Reform Committee disagreed with that, saying there was a definite link between welfare reform and benefit sanctions and the surge in the use of food banks.

Keith Dryburgh from Citizens Advice Scotland said welfare reform and benefits sanctions were he biggest factors in food bank demand rising.

Dr John Ip from the BMA said the benefit sanctions regime was impacting on GP services as they were being asked to refer some people to food banks.

Jamie Livingstone from Oxfam Scotland said: "I think there is a link between welfare reform and the surge in food bank use."

David Kilgour from Aberdeen City Council agreed saying there was "obviously a link between welfare reform and the growth of food bank use".

Mark Ballard from Barnardo's Scotland; Barbara Kendall from the Salvation Army and Kay McIntosh from South Lanarkshire Council also gave evidence to the committee.

In their submission to the committee, Barnardo's said they were seeing increasing numbers of families who do not have enough food, creating increasing reliance on food banks.

The charity said their staff were highlighting the rising cost of living, welfare reform and benefits sanctions as the reason behind the increase.

Citizens Advice Scotland said the new sanctions regime for JSA and ESA claimants had been a significant factor in the rise in food bank use.

Its calling for "urgent reforms to the sanctions regime, improving DWP administration, addressing the problems posed by zero hours contracts, and improving practices in the payday loan industry".

You can watch part two of the committee session with evidence from the DWP here: Welfare Reform Committee 2

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