Welfare reform leads to food bank reliance

The increasing need for food banks across the region has been branded “a disgrace”

Councillors discussing a report from Dumfries and Galloway Council’s health and wellbeing department on Wednesday agreed that such food banks were indicative of a worrying overall picture of welfare reform effects.

Councillor Alistair Geddes said at a meeting of Wigtown Area Committee that he had the utmost respect for those organising the food banks, such as churches and community organisations, but was angered that there is even a need for them.

He said: “It’s a disgrace that in 21st century UK, we have people relying on food handouts like this. Something is not right if this is the route we have to go down.”

Councillor Ian Dick added that he was concerned about child malnutrition and its later effect on the NHS, while councillor Willie Scobie referred to it as “an indictment on the government.”

Councillor Roberta Tuckfield said: “It must also be remembered that not everyone using food banks is on benefits, but perhaps just on low incomes and are faced with an unmanageable rising cost of living. I’m told it’s often a choice between heating or food and that is just not right.” Councillor Jim McColm said the food banks are likely to become busier as the government attempts to take £12billion from welfare costs, and suggested that the food banks should be linked up with the council’s health department and the NHS to find funding for future provisions.

Councillor Geddes said: “The problem isn’t a lack of resources, but the inequality of distribution.”

Ailsa Freeman from health and wellbeing said plans to team up with other agencies were in motion.