Food banks are braced for a big rise in demand as the gas price hike and universal credit cut combine to leave people with less cash for food.

The universal credit cut has been implemented this week and heating bills are set to rise even higher and the impact of both will be seen in the next few weeks with organisers expecting even more people than normal will need help.

At the Glasgow North West foodbank in Blawarthill Parish Church, staff and volunteers are as busy as they have been in the eight years since it opened.

In 2020 during the pandemic, they supported 8728 people including 2876 children. It was fewer than in 2019 but that is because there were more places temporarily offering help with food during the pandemic. Overall demand was far higher.

Rev Melvyn Wood, Foodbank manager, said when emergency support ends and the smaller temporary foodbanks closed they expect more people through the doors.

He added: “We always say we want to see the end of foodbanks but recent developments tell us we are in this for the long haul. We are bracing ourselves for what’s to come.”

The biggest reasons people seek their help are low income, benefit changes and benefit delays.

The number of people show sought help because of low income increased from 1806 in 2019 to 3975 last year.

Rev Wood said they are also noticing a drop in donations as donors feel the rising cost of living.

He said: “People keep being generous donating food. We fear the impact this will have on our donors and we have already noticed a drop.”

Liz Glen, foodbank Treasurer, said: “Donations are getting less and less. By mid-November demand starts to increase even higher.”

She said they had someone come in recently who had no gas or electric and who had no food for days.

The impact of the energy price hikes is a concern to the foodbank.

Liz added: “We have no process for handing out cash for bills.”

Rev Wood added: “That is hard to solve. Food poverty is easier to help out with but you can’t go out and buy a box of gas.”

Anas Sarwar, Scottish Labour leader, was visiting the foodbank to see the work they are doing and discuss the cost of living crisis and what help is needed.

He said: “In the here and now, we have a cost of living crisis that’s going to be exacerbated by rising fuel costs and the shameful cut to Universal Credit, the raising of the energy cap and the cliff edge of furlough ending.

“That’s what foodbanks are confronting here and across the city. We need urgent action.

“We must continue the campaign to reverse the universal credit cut and double the Scottish Child Payment now, if we are to meet child poverty targets.

“We also want to increase the winter fuel payment which has been devolved to the Scottish Government. We want to keep that power in Scotland and supplement it by £70. Let’s do that now.”

Polly Jones, Head of Scotland for Trussell Trust, said it was not only families that are seeking help and many singe adults and couples are using foodbanks.

As well as food, gas and electric there was the cost of travel.

She said: “There are groups who aren’t getting targeted support.

Polly said: “We know people are worried about having to skip meals and are turning the heating off and can’t afford bus fare to travel to jobcentres or a foodbank. It is expensive.”