Yes, I do agree. I also believe that the Scottish Government could act as well. It is time for both the UK and the Scottish Governments to act. The devolution of welfare powers to the Scottish Parliament allows the Scottish Government to make different choices. They could listen to Scottish Labour’s calls to scrap the two-child cap and top-up child benefit by £5 per week. They could choose to not delay the implementation of the income supplement until 2022. Scots living in food poverty now cannot continue to suffer because of the Scottish Government’s inaction.
The UK Government have made a welcome commitment that they will seek to include an official measure of food insecurity in the annual Department for Work and Pensions survey of household incomes and living standards, but I have concerns as to whether the data collected will then be assessed by the Government to help them develop policies to combat food poverty. Data about the level of food bank use in Scotland already exists, thanks to the work of organisations such as the Independent Food Aid Network. I asked the Government whether they used that data to make an assessment of the level of food bank use in Scotland and how to address it, but I was told that the Government had made no such assessment. If the Government will not use the data that is already available, how can we be sure that they will use data collected in the future to help them develop policies to tackle food poverty?