People are handing meals back to food banks because they cannot afford the fuel to cook the food.

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A charity working with a food bank in Clydebank will reveal the dire state of the welfare crisis when it gives evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee tomorrow.

Oxfam – more usually associated with third world poverty – works with West Dunbartonshire Community Foodshare and will warn that welfare cuts have gone too far, leading to destitution and hunger.

In January the number of people seeking help at the facility increased by half, up from 237 in December to 358.

Francis Stuart, policy advisor with Oxfam said, in a written submission to the committee: “One of the most shocking pieces of evidence that Oxfam has seen is that people who use food banks have actually started giving back food items that need cooking because they can’t afford to turn on the electricity to cook the food they desperately need.

“People can’t even afford to cook the food, even if they get it for free.”

“The holes in these so called safety nets are getting bigger and wider and more people are finding themselves falling through these holes.

“It is leading to destitution, hardship and hunger on a large scale.”

The charity said that recently it had found more people in work seeking help from a food bank as families struggled to cope with rising prices and falling wages.

The Committee will also hear from Barnardos and the from the Trussell Trust which operates food banks in Glasgow.

The trust said Scotland has seen a faster growth in food banks opening than anywhere else in the UK. And it added that it had seen an increase of 170% in the numbers it had helped.

By Stewart Paterson Political Correspondent Evening Times

stewart.paterson@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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