Page last updated at 09:36 GMT, Thursday, 30 April 2009 10:36 UK

Rise in applicants to food bank

Highland Food Bank offers three days of emergency supplies

A charity operating a free food bank in Inverness said the economic crisis has led to a 50% rise in the number of people applying for handouts.

Blythswood said the increase has been noted since the start of the year.

The Highland Food Bank offers emergency supplies of three days' worth of basic foodstuffs to people referred from other agencies.

The news comes amid suggestions from a government adviser that Scotland may have been in recession since mid-2008.

Food bank organiser Lorna Dempster said it was not surprising that use of the service had increased.

'Clear evidence'

She said: "It is a short-term measure of help.

"With the financial climate and people losing their jobs, people are becoming more dependent on benefits because of that."

The supplies of food cover breakfast, lunch and tea and include cereals, tinned meats and fruit.

Earlier this week, the Scottish Government's chief economic adviser Andrew Goudie suggested Scotland may have been in recession since the middle of 2008.

Official figures released in April confirmed Scotland fell into recession at the end of last year.

But Dr Goudie suggested this may have happened in "mid-2008".

He also cited predictions the downturn in output could go on into 2010 - but warned there was still uncertainty over how long the recession would last.

GDP statistics showed Scotland went into recession in the final three months of 2008, with falls of 0.8% and 1.7% in the last two quarters.

In a briefing for the Scottish Parliament's economy committee, Dr Goudie said there was "clear evidence" that Scotland's economy weakened in the second half of last year, in line with conditions in other countries.

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