Election: Labour Minister in Fife calls for united strategy to tackle rising poverty

The cost of living crisis was the main thrust of Labour’s council election campaign today as Gordon Brown brought Jonathon Ashworth, Shadow Minister for Work and Pensions, to Kirkcaldy.

Monday, 2nd May 2022, 4:37 pm

He visited Kirkcaldy Foodbank at Linton Lane Centre where he was told that the demand for help has sent its own monthly spending on food soaring from £4000 in 20202 to £22,000 per month.

Mr Ashworth also saw first hand the Big House warehouse which is at the heart of Fife Cottage Family Centre’s bid to support rising numbers of families in desperate need across the region.

He said: “I have absolute admiration for the people who run our foodbanks, but it is shocking that hundreds of people across Kirkcaldy and thousands across Fife rely on good parcels.“It is also shocking that more and more pensioners turning up at foodbank.

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Jonathon Ashworth MP and Gordon Brown chat with Joyce Leggate at Kirkcaldy Foodbank (Pic: Lisa Ferguson)

“People are living hand to mouth. It doesn’t have to be like this.”

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Mr Ashworth and Mr Brown called on the Scottish and UK Governments to come up with a strategy to help people in need before the onset of winter which will see fuel bills rise even further.

The Shadow Minister added: “Both the efforts of the cottage and local firms which are supporting them are to be praised.

Jonathon Ashworth in Kirkcaldy (Pic: Lisa Ferguson)

But these efforts sadly can never be enough.

“While this new local philanthropy in Fife is putting back around an additional £6m into the community, it does not compensate for the approximate £60m that has been taken away as a result of rising bills, falling wages, and reductions to Universal Credit.

“Nothing less than urgent support from the Scottish and UK Governments is now needed to stop a poverty emergency happening in every neighbourhood in Scotland later this year.

Some government intervention – like the Scottish Government’s new Scottish child payment – is welcome but it is still not nearly enough.”

Mr Ashworth called on the Scottish Government to link up with Labour mayors across England and the First Minister of Wales to demand that Chancellor Rishi Sunak changes course immediately on fuel bills – through a windfall tax on oil and gas companies – to take hundreds of pounds of energy bills this year.

He added: “Boris Johnson and the Conservatives must now realise they made a terrible mistake last month by failing to act.

“A united voice – voters from across England, Scotland and Wales demanding he act can work. That’s why Labour has been calling for an emergency budget – to cancel the tax rise Rishi Sunak imposed this month and provide families with more help now.

“In Fife, the community is doing everything it can to help families in the greatest need. We now need both the UK and Scottish Governments to do likewise.”