Number of Scottish families relying on charity doubles

Thousands of people in Scotland are being forced to rely on charities for food handouts, according to new evidence. A report charts the numbers of clients of Scottish citizen's advice bureaux who have made a charitable application, and also records information from charities themselves about the increasing demand for food parcels. Problems in the benefits system are identified as the major factor.

Key points

  • Citizens advice bureaux helped clients to make over 2,200 applications for charitable support in 2011-12 – more than double the number in 2009-10. Most applications were for essential goods and services, such as food and heating, that the client was unable to afford.
  • A range of organisations providing food parcels have experienced huge demands for their services in the last year. One charity, the Trussell Trust, provided food parcels for 128,697 people in the UK in 2011-12 – more than double the number in the previous year. It estimates that half a million people a year will be in receipt of a food parcel by 2016, by which time it aims to have opened 500 food banks.
  • Factors driving demand for food parcels include unemployment, low income and rising food prices. But evidence from citizens advice bureaux and food banks suggests that problems and changes in the benefits system are the most important factors: these include changes to crisis loan eligibility rules, delays in payments, jobseeker's allowance sanctions and sickness benefit reassessments.

Source: Keith Dryburgh, Voices from the Frontline... The Rising Demand for Food Parcels, Citizens Advice Scotland
Links: Report | CAS press release