Food bank demand is on the rise as bills soar

Renfrewshire residents have been forced into turning to foodbanks after steep gas and electricity price rises pushed them deeper into poverty.

Bosses at Renfrewshire Foodbank say locals on the lowest incomes have been forced to find other ways to eat after the cost of stratospheric rises in domestic energy.

Crystal Clayton, manager of Renfrewshire Foodbank, confirmed the service has faced increased demand, saying: “We have seen a lot more people.”

She told the Express: “In terms of service there has been a large increase in the amount of people who are having to rely on us for help and I don’t see that changing.

“It’s becoming quite a big issue for people on low incomes, with the price of fuel going up significantly, people are really struggling with heating or eating. I know it’s said a lot but it’s not just something we say.

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“If you put money in your meters, there’s nothing left for food.”

It comes after an Age Scotland revealed that their figures suggest older people on fixed incomes will also be hit hard.

Their data shows an estimated 220,000 households nationally will have insufficient income to meet the costs of food and drink, rent, council tax and utility bills.

Age Scotland has warned rising bills and the increased cost of living will push older households into poverty and financial insecurity.

They are calling on the Scottish, UK and newly-elected local governments to take urgent action in a bid to help older people.

Age Scotland’s Chief Executive Brian Sloan said: “It’s scandalous so many older households are being left with no choice but to switch off their heating and reduce the amount of food they buy or risk falling into debt due to unmanageable bills.

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“These debts will become ever harder to clear as their outgoings from fixed incomes continue to rise.

“There must be more than politicians can do to help, so the time to act is now, rather than waiting until life becomes even worse for many more people.”

We told in February how Paisley community leaders revealed they feared older people in the area may die as the cost pressures bite.

Terry McTernan, of the Ferguslie-based Darkwood Crew, said ““ My genuine concern is that people are going to die over this.

“We live in the West of Scotland, not the Costa Del Sol. People need to put their heating on.”

Last week, SNP MP Gavin Newlands branded the much-anticipated Queen’s Speech a “lost opportunity” and “an insult” to hard-pressed Renfrewshire households as the UK Government failed to take any meaningful action on the cost of living crisis.

Downing Street is under increasing pressure to help ordinary people as inflation, rising food, fuel and domestic energy costs and stagnant wages, pensions and benefits bite hard.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has admitted there is more his government can do and Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been forced to defend his position over claims that he does not understand the challenges faced by ordinary households.

Paisley-based MSP Neil Bibby has also called for urgent action to help hard-pressed families.

MSP Neil Bibby

He said: “This news cannot be considered surprising but it is no less saddening for that. Growing numbers are relying on food banks while donations are falling due to the cost of living crisis.

“Something has got to change to help families in need and to help them now. The SNP Government have been slow to act and the Tory government are completely out of touch. Only the other day a Tory MP said the problem is that people can ‘ t cook.

“What a staggering insult to people who in actual fact are seeing the price of everything going up – food, petrol, public transport, energy bills and more besides – while his government sits idly by. Unfortunately, just about the only things that aren ‘ t going up by nearly enough are wages and pensions. “

The Labor West Scotland politician added: “The problem is that people can’t survive on modest earnings when living costs are soaring.

“The cost of living crisis is really biting now in Renfrewshire, and should be plain for all to see.

“There must be concerted action to get the economy moving again and help people in need with their household bills.”

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