A politician says both the Scottish and UK Governments should “hang their heads in shame” after it was revealed that foodbank use has risen in East Renfrewshire.

The Trussell Trust’s (TT) mid-year statistics show that between April and September this year 4,516 parcels were distributed at its two locations in the local authority, with 1,536 being allocated to children and 2,980 being given to adults.

This reflects a significant increase from the same period in 2022 in which 2,824 parcels were distributed in total, with 999 going to children and 1,825 to adults.

Foodbanks in the charity’s network in Scotland distributed 259,744 emergency food parcels, between April 1, 2022 and March 31 2023, including 87,968 parcels for children, which is the most parcels it has ever distributed in a financial year.

Paul O’Kane, who represents the town as part of his remit as a West Scotland MSP, described the statistics showing an increase in the reliance of food parcels as “dire” and “damning proof of both of our government's failure in tackling the cost of living and food poverty".

“Scots are facing escalating bills and food prices and every day that goes by without one of or both of our governments delivering a solid plan to reduce the cost-of-living and make work pay, more people face the risk of falling into food poverty,” added the Scottish Labour MSP.

“In East Renfrewshire, we have seen the need for food parcels increase year on year, and I believe that this shocking increase has been the inevitable result of having these two incompetent governments at the wheel.

“Labour would enshrine the Right to Food into law and across the UK we would look to use the levers of power at our disposal to ensure that going to work guarantees that people cannot find themselves in poverty and that the cost of living can be brought under control.

“East Renfrewshire deserves so much better.”

Barrhead News: David Mackenzie and Ken Trench of East Renfrewshire Foodbank's management team outside their Barrhead baseDavid Mackenzie and Ken Trench of East Renfrewshire Foodbank's management team outside their Barrhead base (Image: Newsquest)

Locally, both East Renfrewshire Foodbank in Barrhead and at Thornliebank Resource Centre operate under the auspices of the TT.

Hitting back at Mr O’Kane’s comments, Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said that “with the increase in parcels provided in Scotland markedly lower than in other nations of the UK, the statistics demonstrate the real-life impact of our policy choices such as the Scottish Child Payment.”

“This is only one of a number of policies we are investing £3 billion in this year to tackle poverty and to protect people as far as possible during the cost-of-living crisis,” she added.

“But there are limits to what we can do while the majority of powers over social security lie with Westminster.

“This research shows many people using foodbanks in Scotland are in debt to the DWP (Department for Work and Pensions).

“The UK Government must urgently fix the fundamental flaws with Universal Credit that are driving destitution and foodbank use.

“We have called for an essentials guarantee to be applied to Universal Credit and other reserved benefits, so social security benefits adequately cover the cost of essentials and better protect the most vulnerable people.”

Also responding to Mr O'Kane's comments, a DWP spokesperson, said: “There are 1.7 million fewer people in absolute poverty than in 2010, but we know some families are struggling, which is why we are providing a record support package worth £3,300 per household.

“This includes the latest cost of living payments paid directly to over eight million households this month and our decision to raise benefits by over 10% earlier this year.

“We also know that households are at least £6,000 a year better off in full-time work than out of work on benefits, and to help people out of poverty through work we are also increasing the National Living Wage again and investing £3.5 billion to help thousands into jobs, grow the economy and bear down on inflation.”

The DWP has been asked for a response to the Social Justice Secretary’s comments.