IT is “staggering” that food banks are having to change their opening hours in order to help people who are in work, MSPs have been told.

Holyrood’s Social Justice Committee heard evidence from a number of charities on how the cost-of-living crisis is affecting single parent families.

Cara Hilton, policy and public affairs manager at the Trussell Trust, said her charity’s most recent statistics showed the largest-ever use of food banks in the year to March.

In Scotland, there was a 30% increase in food bank users.

READ MORE: How over a decade of Tory rule sparked the rise of food banks

Hilton said single parent families are more likely to use food banks.

She told MSPs: “It’s really heartbreaking, some of the stories we are hearing.

“Not just people that can’t afford food, but they can’t afford to use their cooker, they can’t afford to keep the fridge turned on.

“It’s just staggering that we’re having to do things like change the hours that food banks open around the working day because more and more people in work are having to use a food bank.”

Laura Millar, of Fife Gingerbread – which helps lone parents, said many families were experiencing increasing anxiety.

She said: “A lot of families we work with are in survival mode …

“We cannot lose sight of the fact that we have children unable to live full, rich lives.”

Martin Canavan, of Aberlour Children’s Charity, read out a letter on behalf of a woman who his charity had supported.

She said items such as fruit are a luxury, saying: “It seems the very basics are out of reach for me and mine.”

Satwat Rehman, chief executive of One Parent Families Scotland, said there is a “big concern” around single parent families building up debt.

She said the charity is “not seeing this abating”.

A report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation last year said 70% of single parent families have one or more debts and a quarter with debt are more than £2500 in the red.

Nearly half (45%) of single parent families were behind on at least one bill or payment, with nearly one in 10 (9%) behind on three or more.

In November 2022 there were 128,000 single parent households in Scotland in receipt of Universal Credit, compared with only 44,439 couple households with children.