Mhairi Black hits out at food poverty and tries to do something about it

Written by James Millar on 8 November 2016 in Diary

SNP star hits out as foodbank provider unveils latest figures

The SNP's Mhairi Black has dubbed the latest figures from foodbank charity The Trussell Trust "shameful" ahead of her attempt to change the benefits sanction regime.

The Trussell Trust revealed today that it gave out over half a million three-day emergency food parcels in the six months to the end of September. That's an increase of 2% on the same period last year and it means the charity is on course to deliver a record number of food parcels this year.

The main reason given for needing emergency food was benefits delays. The hold ups are often due to people having their benefits stopped and then going back on to the system.

David McAuley, chief executive of the Trussell Trust said: “As the number of emergency food parcels provided to people by food banks rises once again, it’s clear that more can be done to get people back on their feet faster. Many food banks now host independent welfare and debt advisers but they cannot solve all the issues.

“To stop UK hunger we must make sure the welfare system works fairly and compassionately, stopping people getting to a point where they have no money to eat."

Black, a member of the work and pensions select committee, is set to introduce a backbench bill aimed at curbing the benefits sanction regime.

She said: "These new figures are simply shameful. They expose the utter failure of the Tory austerity agenda. The fact that foodbank use continues to grow is a damning indictment of the UK government’s record which should leave the Tories deeply ashamed. 

“While foodbanks do an excellent job of providing for those who need it, they should not need to exist.

“Evidence shows that sanctioning leads to increased use of foodbanks, as well as huge amounts of stress on individuals and their families.

“I have seen first-hand the terrible effect unfair sanctions have had on the lives of my constituents that is why I have introduced my Private Member’s Bill aiming to limit the devastating impact of the punitive regime on disadvantaged people across the UK. My bill will introduce a process of assessing a claimant’s circumstances by creating a code of conduct.

"Like many people I believe the current benefit sanctions process can be very impersonal, however, I don't want to waste the opportunity of using a Private Members Bill purely to make a protest. This is a pragmatic attempt to address a serious issue and, if passed, will help to alleviate the worst excesses of the current process.”

Black's latest intervention follows an appearance on Peston on Sunday at the weekend suggesting the SNP are looking to raise her profile following a relatively quiet 18 months since her shock election victory in 2015 when she was aged just 20.



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