December Column

It’s that time of year again when we start to plan ahead to our Christmas Dinner, and might even start stocking up on mince pies! But for some of our friends and neighbours, this will be the hardest time of year. 

With many people in low paid jobs, or unable to work and having their benefits cut, or having to wait weeks for a universal credit payment, foodbanks are seeing an increase in the number of individuals and families needing food. Thankfully there are dozens of foodbank volunteers and people willing to donate all across Midlothian – but it shouldn’t be this way.

Since being elected I have helped constituents access foodbanks on almost a daily basis. In order to make collecting donations for foodbanks easier I have also made my office a collection point for donations of non-perishable foods, sanitary products and toiletries.

It is with no joy that I have had to take this measure, but with Christmas just weeks away and a real danger of people going hungry over the Christmas period, I would like to offer my help.

It is important to remember why we have foodbanks in the first place. They do not exist by chance but because of the harmful decisions taken by our Governments.

In Westminster, we have a Tory Government content with cutting benefits for our most vulnerable and I see daily the effects of their mismanagement of the roll out of universal credit. Here in Scotland we have a parliament with more powers which, if used in full, could alleviate Tory austerity if not end it. Yet sadly to date the SNP have not been as bold as they could be with the Scottish Parliament’s new powers.

As we approach Christmas our politicians will be discussing budgets for the year ahead, and I would urge everyone to contact them and encourage them to back a budget which does not impose yet more austerity on those already struggling. I will be using my voice as your MP to call for an end to austerity and, more importantly, I will vote to end it.