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Ms Roseanna Cunningham MSP has called on local Tories to apologise for their party’s refusal to accept responsibility over the rise in foodbank demand. The demand follows the Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, Amber Rudd, finally admitting that Universal Credit was leaving people without food.  

Foodbank providers and other experts have consistently argued that there was a direct link between Tory welfare reform and the staggering rise in food poverty.  Despite the overwhelming evidence, Michelle Ballantyne MSP, the Tory spokesperson on welfare issues in the Scottish Parliament, argued: “What we haven't got is hard evidence about what the real causes are… I haven't yet seen the concrete evidence of where that's coming from.” 

However, Amber Rudd has now admitted that there was a direct connection, saying: “It is absolutely clear that there were challenges with the initial rollout of Universal Credit – and the main issue that led to an increase in foodbank use could have been the fact that people had difficulty accessing their money early enough.”

Ms Cunningham said:

“We have known for years that Tory cuts were driving up foodbank demand – yet Tory politicians preferred to stick their fingers in their ears rather than accept reality, turning up at local food banks for photo opportunities with Cheshire cat smiles on their faces when it was their own policies that was fuelling the growing need for foodbank services.

“I have always welcomed the wonderful work that foodbank agencies and volunteers do while decrying the need for their very existence.

"The impact in Perthshire South & Kinross-shire has been undeniable. According to the Trussell Trust’s annual foodbank statistics for 2017-18, in Perth and Kinross, alone, nearly 5,000 three-day emergency food supplies were given to people facing crisis.  All the indications are that those figures are continuing to soar, not least because of Universal Credit.

“It is an absolute disgrace that families in Perth & Kinross and across Scotland are being forced into the position of having to rely on emergency food parcels just to get by. 

“Now Amber Rudd has finally admitted that Universal Credit has left people penniless. Unfortunately, that admission fell well short of an apology, far less the action required to put it right, so perhaps local Tory politicians here in Perthshire South & Kinross-shire will rise to the challenge and at least do what Rudd has failed to do and say sorry. 

“The Tories must now hold their hands up and accept that they were wrong to deny the link – and they should apologise for the shameful impact their party’s approach has had, inflicting years of unnecessary cruelty and suffering.  

“But, most importantly of all, they need to put things right.  We urgently need a new approach from Westminster on welfare – an approach modelled on the Scottish example, one that is built on dignity and respect.” 


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Amber Rudd links universal credit to rise in food bank use 

Reality Check: Previous Tory denials over welfare reform impact (Oct 2018) 


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Roseanna Cunningham MSP, 63 Glasgow Road, Perth PH2 0PE  •  01738 620540   •   Website designed & hosted by Craig Mackay Design