New research from Citizens Advice Scotland has found that 1 in 4 people who responded to their survey from the Western Isles say they can’t afford to eat balanced meals and are worried about food running out before there is money to buy more.

The 'Bringing Food to the Table' report from Citizens Advice Scotland is based on survey responses from 2,651 people across Scotland, with more than 200 responses from the Western Isles area.

People filled in an online survey or a paper version in their local Citizens Advice Bureau, in September and October this year.

Almost a third of respondents, 31% would like to buy fresh fish but can’t afford to, while 18% said they would like to buy fresh fruit but can’t afford to.

The report also found that 25% survey respondents in the Western Isles don’t have a grocery delivery service available to them, and that 62% rely on small supermarkets or a local corner shop for their grocery shopping.

A spokesman for the Western Isles Citizens Advice Service said: “This study shows that a number of people living in the Western Isles are struggling to afford to buy food, and in 2018 this is simply unacceptable. For some people going hungry is the norm – that’s just not right.

“I am shocked at some of the figures this piece of work has uncovered. There is an assumption that people in Scotland, especially those in work, would have access to food and be able to afford it, but this research shows that this is not the case. Food insecurity is a huge issue for our clients and this survey illuminates that.”

CAS Chief Executive Derek Mitchell added:“Citizens Advice Bureaux in Scotland have seen a 202% rise in demand for advice on food and foodbanks in the last five years. That’s an enormous rise and points to a real crisis in terms of the money in people’s pockets not going far enough.

“Since this is one of the first specific pieces of research that highlights the fact that people in employment are struggling to afford food, CAS will be using the findings as a first step to understanding this complex issue.”

The Bringing Food to the Tablereport is available here (cas.org.uk/foodonthetable).

There were two data collection methods, online and paper. The online survey was open to everyone in Scotland and publicised on a number of platforms, including traditional and social media, while the paper survey was completed by individuals seeking advice at Citizens Advice Bureaux, and by clients of partner agencies.

A total of 2,682 surveys were undertaken, 31 of which were discarded (all online) as responses were largely incomplete. Of the remaining 2,651 surveys, 1,348 (50.8%) were completed online and 1,303 (49.2%) on paper. 2,388 respondents provided information on their employment status. Of those, 45% were in full-time or part-time employment.

The survey sample is not representative of the Scottish people as a whole.  However, this was never the intention of this work; instead, the aim was to give everyone in Scotland the opportunity to have their say, and to illustrate the experiences of real individuals in Scotland in relation to the purchase of food.