Over the last year, there has been a 36% rise in the number of emergency parcels distributed by food-banks in North East Scotland.
People are struggling with stagnant wages, the rising cost of living and changes to the benefits system. In North East Scotland we have faced specific problems following the oil price crash, but people are in difficulty across the UK.
On average, food-bank users have a weekly income of £50 a week after housing costs. Two-thirds have had problems with the benefits system in the last year, meaning that benefits have been withdrawn or delayed. Three-quarters of those using food banks have a medical condition. Others are in work, but struggle with low wages and high housing and energy bills.
You can judge a society by how it treats its most vulnerable people, and by this standard Britain needs to do much, much better. The Liberal Democrats would provide a safety net that works by:
- Establishing a legal right to food, which government must take into account when introducing new legislation.
- Reducing the wait for first benefits payments from five weeks to five days.
- Tackling child poverty by removing the two-child limit and the benefits cap.
- Ending work capability assessments and replacing them with a new system run by local authorities and based on real-world tests.
- End fuel poverty by 2025 by providing free insulation to all low-income homes.