More People Relying On Food Parcels
One in 50 Citizens Advice Bureau Scotland clients have said they do not have enough money to buy food, according to new figures.
The organisation said that between January and March this year 1,311 new food parcel issues were recorded.
It said that this suggests that its bureaux advise on more than 5,500 food parcel issues in a year.
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) said that aspects of the benefits system such as poor administration and lost applications are causing bureau clients to need a food parcel.
It said that change must focus on ensuring that claimants do not fall through the benefits safety net.
Keith Dryburgh, CAS Policy Manager and author of the new 'Voices from the Frontline' report on food parcels and the benefits system said: "Citizens Advice Bureaux are used to being a port of call in crisis, but this issue is a new and growing one.
"We can point to a number of different factors which have contributed to this growing crisis; and despite an admirable response from community groups, the root causes remain unresolved.
"Sanctions to peoples' benefits, reassessments to disability and sickness benefit and poor administration of benefits all seem to be drivers of this problem. This is both policy and processes that need to be addressed.
"While anyone can suffer a crisis that sees them end up looking for a food parcel, this is an issue disproportionally affecting people out of work and who rely upon the state as a safety net.''
CAS said that men were more likely to need this type of support than women, with one food parcel issue per 35 men compared to 1 in 79 for women.
It said that one in 12 unemployed clients needed a food parcel, while one in 26 who were unable to work due to a disability needed the support. One in 18 lived in council accommodation.
It said that the provision of food parcel and food aid has grown significantly in Scotland in the last three years.
The Trussell Trust, which currently operates 26 food banks in Scotland, provided food to more than 70,000 people in 2013/14 - five times the number compared to the previous year.
Mr Dryburgh said: "CAB can help people access food parcels when they turn to us for help. However what we actually need is for people not to be in crisis in the first place and to never be in a position where they cannot feed themselves or their families.''
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: "We're spending £94bn a year on working age benefits to provide a welfare safety net for millions of people who are on low incomes or unemployed so they can meet their basic needs.
"The OECD also say independently that there are fewer people struggling with food bills compared with a few years ago.
"The truth is that the employment rate is the highest it's been for five years and sanctions are only used as a last resort - after we've make it clear to claimants what they are expected to do in return for their benefits.''