Scottish National Party (SNP) Press Release:
The UK Government’s attitude towards foodbanks has been called into question again today after it emerged that a senior aide to Iain Duncan Smith threatened to shut down foodbank charity the Trussell Trust for being critical of the government.
As reported in the media today, Tory MP Andrew Selous – Parliamentary Private Secretary to Iain Duncan Smith – told Chris Mould of the Trussell Trust that the “Government might try to shut you down” due to the charity’s public campaigning on poverty.
The Trussell Trust has already accused the DWP of “belittling” its work after Neil Couling made a series of false statements to the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee on the charity’s work.
Commenting, SNP MSP Kevin Stewart said:
“That the UK Government thinks it is acceptable to threaten a charity in this way simply for pointing out the consequences of the government’s austerity agenda is absolutely appalling – and is a grim insight into Westminster’s attitude to the work of foodbanks.
“The DWP has already been caught out making false statements about the work of the Trussell Trust to the Welfare Reform Committee – but to threaten to shut down a charity because it disagrees with the UK Government line is a new low even for the DWP.
“People across Scotland recognise the vital work the Trussell Trust is doing in helping to clean up the UK Government’s mess – the DWP’s attitude towards the charity only highlights how out of touch Westminster actually is.
“As a result of Westminster cuts that hit the least well off the hardest, demand for foodbanks has increased by 400 per cent. In comparison, only last week the Scottish Government’s Expert Group on Welfare published a series of proposals to make our welfare system fairer in an independent Scotland – including plans to establish a link between benefits and the cost of living and the scrapping of the current system of sanctions.
“With a Yes vote we can get on with ensuring that our welfare system is a tool to tackle poverty and a springboard to a better life – with a No vote we will be stuck with a UK Government which uses the welfare state to penalise the poor and attacks the charities which attempt to pick up the pieces of their disastrous policies.”
Steven Timms MP, Labour’s Shadow Employment Minister, responding to reports of closure threats to the Trussell Trust by the government, said:
“It would be extraordinary if a government figure made threats to the Trussell Trust. Without the foodbanks run by the Trussell Trust, hundreds of thousands of families would not have enough food. Iain Duncan Smith must urgently establish exactly what happened.”