Food Insecurity

Food Insecurity

30th April 2024

People unable to work are more at risk of food insecurity during the cost-of-living crisis, analysis from Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) reveals.

The charity analysed clients who were unable to work and found they were more likely to seek advice in areas such as food insecurity and crisis support than they are advice generally.

People unable to work make up 31 per cent of food insecurity clients, compared to 21 per cent of all clients.

They also made up 32 per cent of clients seeking crisis support and 36 per cent of people seeking advice around a risk to income.

Meanwhile, 14 per cent of people who needed additional advice alongside food insecurity concerns needed help with disability related social security benefits.

In recent cases from across the CAB network, a woman living with fibromyalgia has reported being too anxious to turn the heating and instead spends the day in bed with a hot water bottle following their direct debit increasing from £130 per month to £304 per month.

Elsewhere, a widowed mother of a disabled child with a sensory condition has been unable to use the special equipment in the home which helps her daughter sleep and relax because of higher energy bills, meaning the child hasn’t been able to attend school. The rising cost of bills means the client is having to make choices between her energy bills and other necessities like food and clothes.

The analysis follows a speech from the Prime Minister on so called ‘sick note’ culture in the UK. CAS said while it is right to support people back into work, this rhetoric risk stigmatising people with health conditions.

CAS Social Justice policy officer Erica Young said:

“Hard thinking is required about how we build a social safety net that not only protects people from falling through the cracks, but gives them a platform of security and opportunity that allows them to flourish. Instead we are seeing a return to the tired old tropes around ‘sick note culture’.

“This rhetoric does not match the reality. Analysis of CAB client data sees people unable to work are more at risk of food insecurity and risks to income.

“It is right to be ambitious about supporting people into work. Wide ranging incentives are an important part of achieving this, welfare restriction by contrast fails to tackle the root causes of rising ill health, the most important of which is health inequalities, encompassing poor housing conditions, access to services, and low income.

These are difficult questions that requote thoughtful answers, we all deserve better than tired tropes about sick notes.”