UK Government shame of veterans using foodbanks exposed as evidence of failed austerity
DR EILIDH WHITEFORD, the SNP candidate for Banff and Buchan, has condemned the UK Tory Government for its “failed austerity agenda” which has seen members of the UK armed forced to use foodbanks for emergency food packages to survive.
Veterans of the armed forces in the UK are being forced to resort to food banks due to struggling on low wage zero hours contract jobs and many have experienced homelessness across the UK.
Former Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders private Jim Kettles served two tours in Northern Ireland and told his story to the Daily Record of how he was left to rely on foodbanks.
He said: “It was a zero hours-type contract – you could be working on a Friday and then be told you weren’t needed the following week. I was running short of money and had no option but to use a foodbank, which was run by a church. I was in a dire situation.”
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) were both contacted. Only the MoD were willing to provide limited comment on the story and the charge of “cruelty and failure” by critics of the UK Government.
A DWP spokesman stated that they were unable to comment on individual cases without specific knowledge.
Glasgow South East foodbank recorded feeding 9033 people last year, which was an 18 per cent rise on the year before.
Commenting on Kettles’ case Dr Eilidh Whiteford, incumbent MP for Banff and Buchan, said: “Our brave veterans have enough to deal with when they return to civilian life and it is truly shameful that the Tories have turned their backs on so many who have fought for this country, leaving them to rely on emergency food supplies.
“There is overwhelming evidence from academics and from foodbank providers that Tory austerity cuts and benefit sanctions are the driving force behind the rise in food poverty – but Theresa May has quite callously dismissed this as ‘complex’.
According to the Trussell Trust, foodbank use in the UK rose between April of last year and this year resulting in over one million ‘three-day emergency food supplies’ given to people in crisis. The charitiy’s latest report pointed to the UK Government’s welfare reforms since 2010, specifically Universal Credit and austerity cuts as the main reason behind the jump in usage of their services.
“There is overwhelming evidence from academics and from foodbank providers that Tory austerity cuts and benefit sanctions are the driving force behind the rise in food poverty.” Dr Eilidh Whiteford
In Scotland, 145,865 food packages have been provided by food banks since April 2016. Glasgow South East foodbank recorded feeding 9033 people last year, which was an 18 per cent rise on the year before.
Tory leader Theresa May has faced fierce criticism from political opponents and charities after she attempted to dodge blame for a recent scandal of NHS nurses using food banks and packages. A spokesperson for the MoD told CommonSpace that the UK Government was “committed to the military covenant” but would not comment on the specifics of veterans using food banks.
Whiteford added: “Scotland needs full control of employment legislation so that we can improve zero hours contracts and introduce a statutory real Living Wage, as well as full devolution of social security policies so that we can put a stop to the relentless Tory austerity agenda.
“The SNP spends more than £100 million a year militating against Tory welfare cuts and a £1m Fair Food Fund has recently been established to help tackle food poverty. The ex-service community in Scotland are also looked after by the Scottish Veterans Commissioner and Scottish Veterans Fund.”
Charities such as Who Dares Cares, set up to help veterans and support people from all walks of life with PTSD, backed radical action to help veterans and end the scandal of food banks.
Veteran Cammy Macleod, a co-ordinator and founder of the charity, who served in the King’s Own Scottish Borders regiment said: “The fact our veterans are being forced to use food banks is a horrifying indictment of modern Britain.”
Picture courtesy of Defence Images
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