The rise in the use of food banks is one of the more obvious signs that our economy and social security safety net are not working as they should. Child poverty in Banff and Buchan stands at almost 20%, compared to an Aberdeenshire average of 12.59%. Child poverty in Turriff is projected to grow at the fastest rate in Aberdeenshire.
Although there has been a culture of demonising benefits claimants in recent years, seventy percent of families using food banks have at least one parent who works. However, their pay barely covers rising housing costs and other bills. In recent years, social security has been cut back significantly, especially for families. Declining public transport also limits the work options for families living in rural areas.
The Liberal Democrats’ manifesto for the General Election would introduce a ‘legal right to food’. We would also: reduce the maximum wait for benefits from 5 weeks to 5 days; and remove the ‘two child cap’.
The Resolution Foundation has said that the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto would do more than Labour or the Conservative manifestos to reduce child poverty. Under the Conservative manifesto, the Resolution Foundation found that the poorest households would be an alarming 13% worse off by 2023-24, bringing poverty to levels not seen for sixty years.
Alison Smith, the Liberal Democrat Candidate for Banff and Buchan said
Child poverty is clearly unjust for the growing number of children in that position, so we have a moral obligation to tackle this issue. But it about more than that. A whole generation of children risk not meeting their potential, and when families barely have money to make ends meet, they have no money to spend on local shops and services. It is no wonder that our economy is stagnating when so many families are struggling just to survive.
The Liberal Democrats’ manifesto has proposals to strengthen Britain’s benefits safety net, particularly for families. However, to tackle the root cause of this problem, all levels of government will need to prioritise this issue and work together. Aberdeenshire Council has identified improving public transport and increasing the uptake of free school meals as steps they intend to take. In doing so, they will have my full support.
This is a 2019 General Election Campaign press release.
You can see all candidates in the Banff & Buchan constituency here and read the My Turriff statement on our transparency here.