UK minister says no 'simplistic link' between welfare reform and food banks


Scotland Office minister David Mundell repeatedly denied there was a "simplistic link" between the rise in the use of food banks and UK government welfare reforms, on 26 June 2014.

The Conservative MP was repeatedly pressed on the link between welfare reform and the increase in food bank usage by MSPs on the Welfare Reform Committee.

In May UK Employment Minister Esther McVey has said rising food bank use was not the fault of Westminster's welfare reforms.

Figures from the Trussell Trust have indicated an increase in food bank usage of more than 300% in the past year.

The recent "Below the Breadline" report, published by Oxfam, Church Action on Poverty and the Trussell Trust said the need for food banks is a "stain on our national conscience".

Ewan Gurr from the food bank charity said: "Among the 71,000 people Trussell Trust food banks in Scotland provided emergency food to in 2013/14, 22,387 were children."

Labour MSP and committee convener Michael McMahon was the first to ask Mr Mundell to "concede the direct link between your reform act and the increase in usage of food banks".

The Scotland office minister insisted food banks were a "complicated issue" which required "more research to understand" adding he did not subscribe to the "simplistic view the rise was entirely due to welfare reforms".

SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing said the "most shocking statistic" was that more than 22,000 children had to rely on food banks in order to eat and asked Mr Mundell if that "appalling statistic" caused him to lose any sleep over his government's policies.

The minister said the UK government wanted to help support people and did not use vulnerable people for political point scoring and again reiterated the call for a better understanding of the foodbank statistics.

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