South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has praised the work of local foodbanks, following a visit to the Trussell Trust’s Dumfriesshire Foodbank last week with Scottish Labour Leader Anas Sarwar but warned that planned cuts to Universal Credit could lead to demand “spiralling out of control”.
Colin and Anas got the chance to see first hand just how important foodbanks are to their communities during a visit last week. Foodbanks and other community projects continued during the pandemic but have now expressed fears that plans announced last month by the UK Government to remove the Universal Credit uplift in the next few weeks will force more people into poverty.
The UK Government announced that the pandemic universal credit uplift of £20 a week will be withdrawn at the end of September despite widespread public and cross-party opposition to the move, leading to cuts of up to £1,000 a year for tens of thousands families across South Scotland.
Colin Smyth has now written to South Scotland Conservative MPs Alister Jack, John Lamont and David Mundell calling on them to oppose a cut that will hammer thousands of families in their constituency.
Colin Smyth said: “The tireless efforts of foodbanks across our area cannot be underestimated and I would like to pay tribute to all the volunteers and staff who work so hard to deliver these lifeline services, not least at the height of the pandemic.
“It is a scandal that in the 21st century, such things are still needed. Even before the pandemic, foodbanks were in huge demand and Covid-19 has exacerbated the existing problems and now many people are facing this savage reduction in Universal credit.
“Those running foodbanks have highlighted this as the biggest threat that could lead to demand for their services spiralling out of control. There is near universal opposition to this shameful and callous cut and I’ve written to the Tory MPs across the South of Scotland calling on them to stand up for their constituents and oppose this move.
“By the government’s own reckoning, there could be hundreds of thousands or even millions of people across the UK self-isolating in September because of the current Covid strategy, yet the Tories see fit to slash support for those in need that will hit tens of thousands of families across the South of Scotland.
“Reducing Universal Credit will hit the most vulnerable people in our society hardest. It’s time our Tory MPs see sense, backed struggling families in our area and joined the growing calls to reverse this cut.”