FOODBANKS say they are seeing an increase in the number of people requesting food donations that can be warmed with a kettle or in the microwave as they cannot afford to use their ovens or hobs.

Last weekend, Oxfam Scotland penned a letter to the Scottish Parliament’s welfare reform committee to say it had ‘shocking’ evidence people who use foodbanks have started giving back certain items because they can’t afford to use electricity to cook food.

Ros Duerden at Blackburn Foodbank in Brunswick Street said this was not a new phenomenon and foodbanks had been trying to tackle this problem for some time.

“When we first opened, we had people telling us that their oven wasn’t working. They were embarrassed to tell us that things had got so bad they couldn’t afford to switch it on.

“Now we ask people what facilities they have so we can pack a food parcel that they are able to cook using their kettle or microwave.

“We have definitely seen a recent increase in people saying they only have limited appliances to cook with. We have even been asked if we can help with utility bills. It’s not surprising — the costs of these bills are so high they can put families in crisis.”

In a BBC documentary aired on Monday, a public health specialist said the prevalence of families who cannot afford food is the most pressing public health concern.

The Trussell Trust, the organisation linked to Blackburn Foodbank, and Citizens Advice say the main causes of the rise in demand are problems with benefits, low income and debt.