To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the implications for her policies of the Independent Food Aid Network report, published in March 2019, that found in Scotland between April 2017 and September 2018, more than double the number of food parcels were given out than previously estimated.
We welcome any research aimed at improving our understanding of the nature and extent of food bank use. We recognise the data limitations in this area and that is why the Department for Work and Pensions has been working with a number of food security experts, the Office for National Statistics and the Scottish Government to introduce a new set of food security questions into the Family Resources Survey (FRS) from April.
In the short term we are exploring how we can build on current good practice to make it as easy as possible for food banks to identify and refer back to the local Jobcentre any customers who may, for a variety of reasons, not be receiving the full formal support to which they are entitled.
The Government has committed to a strong safety-net for those who need it; we spend over £95 billion a year on welfare benefits for people of working age including a well-established system of hardship payments, benefit advances and budgeting loans as an additional safeguard for those who need it.