Food Poverty: Scotland

Part of Delegated Legislation – in the House of Commons at 8:05 pm on 7th May 2019.

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Photo of Hugh Gaffney Hugh Gaffney Labour, Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill 8:05 pm, 7th May 2019

Yes, I know people who worry about borrowing, and try to borrow from their family and friends rather than having to pay back this loan, which I believe also accrues some interest and puts them back even further.

Professor Philip Alston visited the UK back in November, and spoke to volunteers and food bank users as part of his research into poverty in the UK. His report for the United Nations concluded that food banks were a symptom—a symptom of this Government’s complete denial of the impact of austerity on the poorest in our society. I hope that the Government will snap out of their denial and start showing willingness to act. I stress that that goes for the Scottish Government as well.

I pay tribute to Labour-led North Lanarkshire Council’s fantastic Club 365 programme, which is free to attend for primary school pupils who receive free school meals, and ensures that they do not go hungry at the weekends or during the school holidays. North Lanarkshire Council helps to feed our children 365 days a year. I remember attending a meeting that looked at the positive impact of Club 365 on the lives of children in my constituency of Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill, as well as across North Lanarkshire. A Conservative councillor was moved to tears at that meeting; he never realised that the problem was so big.

Club 365 highlights that food poverty can be tackled when the political will exists. I hope that both the UK and Scottish Governments will now show that they have that political will. Let us not make “Oliver” a reality for more of our children: “Please Sir, can I have some more?” I say no more—no more children and their families going hungry in Scotland. If the UK Government can remove the smokescreen of Brexit, and the Scottish Government can remove the distraction of indyref 2, 3, 4 and 5, maybe we can end food poverty.