French-born MSP Christian Allard is urging North East voters to volunteer at a local foodbank to see for themselves the effects welfare reforms are having on communities throughout the region.
Mr Allard said giving a few hours of time to a foodbank will reveal the stark reality of working families being forced to choose between food and heating. The SNP MSP said the use of foodbanks across Scotland has increased by 400% in the last twelve months.
Mr Allard said the benefits changes which have come from Westminster - against the will of the majority of politicians in Scotland - have been cited by charities as the reason for the rise in demand for food handouts. Mr Allard argues that independence presents an opportunity to reverse this trend.
The figures published by the Trussell Trust show that in 2012/13 Scottish foodbanks provided help to 14,318 people, but in 2013/14 that figure had increased by 400% to 71,428. The Trust cites benefit changes, benefit delays and low income as the key causes of people in Scotland seeking support from their foodbanks.
Mr Allard said the statistics from the Trussell Trust have been quoted many times but it is hard to quantify their impact without seeing first-hand how they affect people.
Commenting, Christian Allard said: “I am urging voters to give up some of their time at a local foodbank before they vote in the referendum.
“While the reported 400 per cent increase in usage of foodbanks across Scotland is a shocking statistic, it is sometimes better to experience first-hand the reality of the situation.
“Before you cast your vote in the referendum, I would suggest going to a foodbank to experience first-hand the effect Westminster-imposed policy is having on North East communities.
“It is unacceptable that demand for food parcels in one of the wealthiest parts of the country has increased so much under UK Government’s welfare caps and reforms. Aberdeen is the oil gas capital of Europe and yet there are clearly growing numbers of people, most in work, struggling to put food on the table.
“With independence we can tailor welfare policy to suit the needs of people here in Scotland instead of mitigating the disastrous policies that are forced upon us by Westminster.”