A FEW years ago, while managing a busy city-centre foodbank, I remember talking to a young man in his mid-twenties who had been referred to the foodbank on a hot summer’s day.

At the time, I was also in my mid-twenties and we were talking about the weather at which point I spoke about the first conservatory I ever sat in. I was startled when he enquired what a conservatory was, saying: “Isn’t that the Government?”

It took me a minute to realise he had heard the words Conservative and Tory and come up with a completely different of what we were talking about.

I was reminded of that conversation while watching the 2015 Budget yesterday. Hearing George Osborne’s suggestion that “we should always fix the roof when the sun is shining” caused me to wonder how many other soundbites would be lost on the general public.

There are certainly not many conservatories to speak of in the cities, towns and villages where our foodbanks are situated.

As I listened to the first Conservative Budget in 19 years, I wondered how distant many of the proposals around million-pound properties and corporation tax would sound to individuals and families on limited benefits, static incomes or low-paid employment and just struggling to keep their head above water.

The Conservative Chancellor billed it as “a Budget that puts economic security first” but economic security is something of a foreign concept to the many people using our foodbanks.

I wondered how many listening to George Osborne saying “Britain isn’t saving enough” were thinking “Aye, but we’re no’ eating enough either.”

On Monday, April 1, 2013, I was delivering a volunteer training session to our Aberdeen North foodbank and they asked a question I am commonly asked: “How many people do you think we will provide food to in our first year?”

Having helped pioneer a number of Scottish foodbanks at that time I had developed the ability to make relatively accurate estimates. “Perhaps around 800 people” I replied. A year later, I realised my estimates for the previous 12 months had been useless as Aberdeen North foodbank provided food to over 2,500 individuals and families.

In 2012-13, The Trussell Trust foodbanks in Scotland received 14,318 referrals for people needing emergency food – including over 4,500 children – but the following year the number of referrals increased by 400 per cent to 71,428 men, women and children.

What had changed? The difference could be attributed in part to the rising cost of food and fuel, the increasingly insecure nature of employment but, most notably, the key driver was the implementation of a number of welfare reforms.

While the ripple effects of the four year freeze on working age benefits and the limit on child tax credit for couples with more than two children are still to be felt, there is no doubt that some low income families will interpret this not as a “long-term economic plan” but a recipe for long-term economic pain.

Having said that, there were some glimmers of hope, including the announcement of a minimum wage of £7.20 due to be implemented by April 2016.

Although it is perhaps questionable whether this truly can be billed as a new national living wage in an economy of rising living and housing costs, it certainly has started a conversation about what a reasonable living wage is.

What the Greek referendum has taught us is there is a real and growing scepticism as to whether or not austerity really is the answer that will breathe life into the lungs of prosperity and revive the beating heart of our economy.

I have often said: “Our foodbanks will only be a success when the last one closes its door.” While I am feeling some mixed emotions I am certain of one thing – I do not think I will be experiencing success any time soon.

Ewan Gurr is Scotland network manager for the Trussell Trust foodbank network


George Kerevan: A merciless attacks on the poor ... to the sound of cheers

John Swinney: The National Living Wage hides an attack on people in low-wage jobs

Equality: This Budget continues the project which impoverishes women

Inheritance tax: Making a system more complicated when it needs simplicity

Disability: Why we are sceptical about Osborne's promise

Unemployment: The National Living Wage is a slightly less low minimum wage

Child poverty: Child poverty ... Measures will do precious little for the poorest families in Scotland

Housing: Pushing those already suffering further into poverty