Child poverty campaigners welcome food poverty report

June 30, 2016
  • “It is possible to end the need for foodbanks during this Parliament” say independent working group
  • Report sets out ways this “must happen” including by topping up benefits and ensuring Scottish Welfare Fund is first port of call for people in crisis

Responding to the publication today of the Independent Working on Food Poverty report (see note 1) John Dickie, Director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland said;

“This report is absolutely clear that the fundamental problem behind the explosion of food back use and rising food insecurity is that too many people are being left without enough money to adequately feed themselves and their children. That’s why many of the key solutions proposed in the report focus on boosting household incomes through fairer work and by ensuring all Scotland’s people receive the financial support that they are entitled to - whether that’s from UK social security or the Scottish Welfare Fund”

The Working Group, which included the Trussell Trust foodbank network, Oxfam and people with direct experience of food poverty, recommends that:

  • The Scottish government should use all available devolved powers, including procurement rules, to ensure work is a reliable route out of poverty.
  • The Scottish Government should use new social security powers to improve the value of social security support – saying that this could be done by topping up child benefit by £5 per week and lifting 30 000 children out of poverty.
  • The Scottish Government and local authorities should prioritise investment in benefits advice and information services.
  • The Scottish Government, along with local authorities and all those responding to acute food insecurity, should ensure widespread use of the Scottish Welfare Fund as the first port of call for crisis support, and if demand for the Fund grows invest in it accordingly.

Urging Angela Constance, the Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities, to act on the Report’s recommendations Mr Dickie said;

“If we are serious about ending hunger in Scotland the recommendations in this report must be implemented as soon as possible.”

For more information contact John Dickie, Director of CPAG in Scotland, jdickie@cpagscotland.org.uk, 0141 552 3656 or 07795 340 618

(1) The Independent Short Life Working Group on Food poverty was established at the invitation of the previous Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice Alex Neil MSP to ‘explore ways to reduce reliance on foodbanks’ and ‘identify the issues which push people into food poverty and discuss how they can be addressed’ see http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/Tackling-food-poverty-1e6d.aspx. The Group is chaired by Martin Johnstone the Secretary of the Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council.

(2) The Working Groups report presented to the Cabinet secretary this morning and can be found at http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2016/06/8020