SNP MSP for Cunninghame South, Ruth Maguire, has criticised the UK government for “driving families to food banks” after new figures reveal the number of food parcels has increased over the past year.

The Trussell Trust’s annual foodbank statistics show that the number of food parcels distributed in Scotland surged by 17% in 2017-18 to record levels – with Tory welfare policy remaining the main driver.

Benefit delays and sanctions are the primary reason for referrals, with the roll-out of universal credit a factor in the rise.

The SNP have called on the UK government to reverse the benefits freeze and introduce a real living wage to help ensure families have enough money to live on.

Commenting, Ruth said:

“It’s a disgrace that families in Cunninghame South and across Scotland are having to rely on emergency food parcels just to get by.

“Millions of families across the UK are suffering from a Tory pay cut – as rising prices, stagnant wages, and cuts to social security continue to squeeze living standards and push households into poverty, debt and crisis.

“These figures from the Trussell Trust show that the problem is getting worse – with food bank usage rising year on year. Tory policies are making it harder for families to cover even the basic costs of food, housing, and bills.

“Families cannot afford another year of Tory cuts. It is vital that the UK government finally takes meaningful action to boost incomes. This must include delivering a real living wage and reverse the benefits freeze to help ensure families have enough money to live on.”