The number of people using foodbanks in Aberdeen has soared by 50% since the summer.
One foodbank alone – CFINE – is seeing an average of between 150 and 170 people walking through its doors each day. That compares to over the summer holidays when around 100 people would walk through the charity’s doors every day.
It comes as Aberdeen politicians clashed at a full council meeting yesterday, with one councillor branding the roll-out of Universal Credit “an absolute scandal”.
Charities say Universal Credit is a definite factor in the rise in visits – and warn it could get worse in the coming weeks and months. Universal Credit replaces six means-tested benefits with one monthly payment.
Neil Woodward, a financial capability officer at CFINE, said: “It’s been crazy. Universal Credit started on October 31 so you’re seeing people not getting paid for five or six weeks.
“At the moment, not everyone is falling under the umbrella of Universal Credit but I think we’re going to see it getting higher and higher in the coming weeks.”
Evan Adamson, a community connector at Instant Neighbour which also provides a foodbank service, reported that usage had almost doubled in the past year.
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An average of between 30 and 40 people would claim a food parcel from Instant Neighbour this time last year but Evan said the number has now risen to about 60.
He said: “I think we’ve seen an increase through fear. People are scared of Universal Credit.
“We’re seeing pretty much a 10% rise in the number of people who are coming in every single day.
“Once you’re in, you’re fine, but it’s that initial period where you’re waiting for payment that’s the killer for people.”
SNP group leader Stephen Flynn said claimants in the city are facing a five-week delay in receiving their first payment.
He added: “That’s a minimum of five weeks where someone will not have any money in their pocket.
“I can’t be the only one who has had constituents come to me and I’ve had to refer them to a foodbank because they don’t have money for five weeks.
“That’s an absolute scandal.”
A DWP spokeswoman said: “Universal Credit is a force for good for many and with it we have seen people get into work faster, stay in work longer and keep more of what they earn.
“Listening to people’s concerns, we have invested a £4.5 billion boost into the system and have made 100% advances available from day one.
“Scotland has the power to top up existing benefits, pay discretionary payments and create entirely new benefits altogether.”