Article from Third Force News – here.
Scotland’s only Tory MP has been left smarting after being sent evidence of the link between welfare reforms and the increase of foodbank use – after denying they were related.
Evidence proving the link has been sent to Scotland Office minister David Mundell, MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale, by the Scottish Parliament’s welfare reform committee.
This follows a call from Mundell to show him evidence of the impact of these policies after he expressed doubt that an increase in foodbank use was as a direct result of welfare reform.
Much of this evidence has now been forwarded to UK ministers and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), however many benefit claimants declined to send in their cases for fear that they might be subject to unfair treatment and reprisals from the DWP if their identity is revealed.
Committee convener Michael McMahon MSP said: “The welfare reform committee has amassed a growing volume of evidence documenting the impact of welfare reform on Scotland’s communities. We have now sent a further batch of evidence to Mr Mundell and the DWP.
“However, what we discovered during the course of our enquiries has surprised and saddened us. It is a sad state of affairs when vulnerable people are frightened to engage with the very system that is supposed to offer them support and care.”
In February Mundell, Scotland’s only Conservative MP, dismissed evidence from MSPs, academics, charities and religious organisations of a link between welfare reform and the use of foodbanks at a meeting of the welfare reform committee.
Evidence submitted to the committee included benefits recipients who have been sanctioned and individuals whose benefits payments has been subject to delay, all of which has led to an increased demand on foodbank services.
Clare Adamson MSP, deputy convener, said: “UK government ministers continue to turn a blind eye to the appalling impact that their welfare policies are having on some of the most vulnerable members of society.
“We have now provided Mr Mundell and the DWP with irrefutable evidence that benefits cuts and sanctions are driving people in ever greater numbers to seek the assistance of food banks and other charities.”
TFN has requested a response from Mr Mundell.