SASW: Food parcels “a taste of looming poverty”

Following a report from Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) showing that the number of people asking for food parcels from charities in Scotland has doubled in the past two years to 2,200, the Scottish Association of Social Work (SASW) has warned that the situation will get worse as welfare reforms bite ever harder.

The report also finds that:

  •     Charities who provide emergency food parcels have themselves reported significant increases in clients. e.g. the Trussell Trust alone gave out food parcels to over 128,000 people (UK-wide) in 2011/12 – that’s more than double the number in the previous year.
  •     Most of those who need these services are low-income families who are experiencing some sort of crisis point, whether it is unemployment or losing benefit entitlement.
  •     Evidence suggests that the impact of the welfare changes will make the situation even worse over the next few years.

SASW is echoing the concerns already raised by Edinburgh council, which is monitoring the effects of welfare reform, and is calling for an urgent comprehensive investigation from the UK government.

Commenting on the report’s publication, SASW Manager Ruth Stark said: “Social workers will not be surprised by the rise in people relying on food parcels to survive; it is just a taste of the looming poverty yet to come. The divide between those who have and those who have not is growing, and poverty remains a major issue for social workers working with children, families and individuals.

“The UK government has responsibility for implementing this agenda, and must acknowledge the harm that is being caused to vulnerable people in our society”.

“We want to see an urgent, comprehensive investigation into this failure to meet need as well as to meet our obligations to human rights conventions to treat all people with dignity and respect.

The UK government claims it plans to save £7bn in welfare spending and get people off benefits and into work, and introducing a single, universal credit to replace a range of current benefits from 2013.

Many critics in Scotland, including Labour MSPs and the Scottish government have warned that people will end up facing more hardship.