Food Poverty: Scotland

Part of Delegated Legislation – in the House of Commons at 8:24 pm on 7th May 2019.

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Photo of Will Quince Will Quince The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 8:24 pm, 7th May 2019

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. The answer is no, because zero-hours contracts work for a large number of people. I have spoken to people in my constituency who find huge benefit in zero-hours contracts. They give them the flexibility that they need in the work place.

Our tax changes will make basic rate tax payers more than £1,200 better off from April, compared with 2010. Taken together, the most recent changes mean that a single person on the national living wage will, from April, take home over £13,700 a year—£4,500 more than in 2009-10. The Government remain committed to providing a strong safety net for those who need it. This is why we continue to spend more than £95 billion a year on welfare benefits for people of working age. I would say gently to the hon. Gentleman and other Opposition Members that the Scottish Government can tackle poverty in all its forms through its devolved skills, education, health and employment programmes such as those introduced to support disadvantaged pupils within the education system. The UK Government have also taken similar steps to support the most vulnerable by providing free school meals and our healthy start vouchers. We are also investing up to £26 million in school breakfast clubs and £9 million to provide meals and activities for thousands of disadvantaged children during the summer holidays.

We have also heard from the hon. Gentleman about the impact of food insecurity on health. The UK Government are taking action. For example, chapter 2 of the childhood obesity strategy announces a bold ambition to halve childhood obesity and significantly reduce the gap in obesity between children from the most and least deprived areas by 2030. I will ensure that my counterpart in the Department of Health and Social Care is aware of some of the wider issues that have been raised in this debate. The Government also want to build a better understanding of food insecurity.