Foodbanks should be funded by income tax rise
Third Force News, by Robert Armour
Foodbanks in Scotland should be funded by a rise in income tax, MSPs have been told.
A petition to the Scottish Parliament is urging the Scottish Government to either use the country’s estimated £145 million underspend or raise tax by 1p to collect more than £250m to fund the country’s network of foodbanks.
The Scottish Parliament Public Petitions committee will hear pleas from a range of groups and individuals calling for urgent action to be taken.
John Beattie, from Sunny Govan Radio, who originally mounted the petition, will give evidence to the committee calling for direct funding from the Scottish Government.
He collects for South West Foodbank and says it needs at least £1,000 a week to survive. These four foodbanks so far have fed 4,745 people including 1,485 children.
But more cash was needed to continue to give out essential supplies to desperate families he said.
“We started doing collections in February because the local food bank was asking us to put out emergency appeals,” said Beattie.
People are desperate for help
“It was then I realised how bad the situation was. We would speak to people who were affected, who used foodbanks and we heard how desperate so many people were.
“One of my concerns is if people are having to be referred to a foodbank and then also worry if there is going to be any food there to collect makes it even worse.”
“I have spoken to people in Drumchapel and Maryhill who tell me it is just as serious there as well. They are desperate for help.
“We have had MSPs donate items personally which is great. We want them also to use their influence on the government to make financial help available.”
Despite repeated appeals and a response for the community the situation is getting worse.
The biggest provider of foodbanks in Scotland the Trussell Trust says the number of people who have been helped in Scotland has rocketed since 2011.
In 2011, 1,692 adults and children were assisted. By 2014 it had increased to 51,647, but those figures are only for the period between April and September.
Some £1m has been provided by the Scottish Government to support foodbanks and help combat food poverty.
Half of this sum went to foodbanks and half went to the charity Fareshare, which redistributes food from supermarkets to communities and charities.
Alex Neil, Scottish Government equalities minister, said: “We want to help food aid providers support even more people and make sure those using food banks are able to access appropriate advice and support.”
MSPs on the committee have been provided with a briefing paper from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre.
It points to Trussell Trust figures showing the number of people who have been helped in Scotland has rocketed since 2011 – and that number shows no signs of slowing down.