I welcome the publication of a report by Oxfam and Church Action on Poverty on foodbanks entitled Walking the Breadline. The report states that food poverty is out of control in the UK and that half a million people are dependent on emergency food aid. The single biggest cause of hunger is the benefit system. The report recommends that the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee conduct an urgent inquiry into the relationship between benefit delay, error or sanctions, welfare reform changes and the growth of food poverty.
I have visited the Dundee Foodbank and I know that the staff and volunteers at the Dundee Foodbank do an excellent job. They have my full support in their work at this time. I have supported my colleague Councillor Kevin Keenan who was successful in getting funding for the Common Good Fund for the Foodbank. The Foodbank is used by people from across the city including in my ward and I cannot praise the work of the staff and volunteers enough, however it is a disgrace that in 2013 a Foodbank is required in Dundee.
I welcome the report from Church Action on Poverty and Oxfam and I support their call for action. I think that the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee should carry out an inquiry into the link between the way the benefits system works and the use of Foodbanks. I also think that Dundee City Council should be recording when it refers people to the Foodbank and look at the reasons for that referral. I will be asking the council to collect this information.
I also agree with the final recommendation of the report that the UK Government must do all it can to tackle tax dodging as this would return more money to the government and allow the government to offer better support for people.
I support the work of Foodbanks and especially the Dundee Foodbank but we must surely be working for a day when such aid is not required.