Islands MSP backs foodbank’s call for urgent Universal Credit review

Polygrubs will help grow food on Uist to feed supplies to the new foodbank

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More than 600 emergency food packs were handed out in just 12 months to people in the Western Isles facing crisis.

A report by Trussell Trust Foodbank Network into foodbank use in the islands found that between April 2017 and March 2018, it gave out 616 three-day emergency food supplies, with 227 going to children.

The figures have prompted Na h-Eileanan an Iar MSP Alasdair Allan to support a call by the Trussell Trust for an urgent review into the Universal Credit rollout. Mr Allan has already called for that rollout to be halted immediately, before it reaches the Western Isles later this year.

‘One referral here in the islands is one too many, never mind 616, as the report indicates.

‘Foodbanks are run by passionate individuals who seek to provide a safety net and act as a last resort for those living in poverty. I commend the hard work of those involved, particularly with the foodbank in Stornoway and the newly-established foodbank in Uist.

‘The UK Government’s austerity agenda, sanctions system and flawed universal credit rollout are making foodbank use far too everyday and common in our communities,’ he said.

Earlier this month The Oban Times reported two new foodbanks were opening in Uist and on Barra as part of the Tagsa Uibhist charity.

The Trussel Trust’s own foodbank can be found at Uist CAB, 45 Winfield Way, Balivanich, on Benbecula.

Mr Allan said with ‘limited powers’ over welfare, the Scottish Government was building a Scottish social security agency with dignity and respect at its heart.

But he added: ‘The extent of Westminster cuts to the welfare state, brutal sanctions programme and much-maligned universal credit rollout are causing families to be left in complete destitution and forced to use foodbanks.’