THE demand for emergency food parcels has risen by 9 per cent in Clackmannanshire, a report has found.

A Menu for Change, a joint venture between Oxfam Scotland, Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, Nourish Scotland and The Poverty Alliance, collated the figures for 2018-19.

The report shows that there were 13,171 parcels distributed in Clacks between April 2018 and September 2019 – an increase of 1,153 on the 12,018 handed out between April 2017 and September 2018.

Keith Brown, MSP for Clacks and Dunblane, said: "The figures paint a deeply worrying picture for families struggling to put food on their tables in Clackmannanshire.

"Expert evidence shows time and time again that toxic Tory welfare reforms have been a major driver of food and fuel poverty locally and across Scotland – with the five-week delay in Universal Credit payments and a damaging sanctions system pushing people into spirals of debt.

"The Tory Government must act now to stop inflicting such misery on families across Clackmannanshire."

Mark Ruskell, Green MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife MSP, added: "The Tory UK Government is responsible for the vast majority of welfare payments, but its vindictive policies have resulted in thousands of the most vulnerable being impoverished.

"The situation in Clackmannanshire is deeply troubling. Not only has there been a 9 per cent increase, but significantly more parcels were distributed here than in neighbouring Stirling, despite a smaller population."

A Menu for Change, which collated the figures, worked in partnership with the Independent Food Aid network to measure the scale of emergency food parcel provision in Scotland.

Figures show that the total number of emergency food parcels distributed in Scotland was 596,472, a 22 per cent rise on the 480,583 that were handed out in the previous 18 months recorded.

The UK Government said the reasons for people using foodbanks were complex.

A spokesman added: "The benefit cap ensures fairness by asking families receiving benefits to face the same financial choices as families supporting themselves solely through work.

"Meanwhile, Scotland has significant welfare powers and can top-up existing benefits, pay discretionary payments and create entirely new benefits altogether."

Families in Clacks experiencing extreme hardship can apply for support through the Scottish Welfare Fund.