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The Trussell Trust’s “The State of Hunger” report contains further evidence that the UK Government’s welfare cuts are the key driver of food bank use and notes the importance of other support, such as the Scottish welfare fund. We invested more than £1.4 billion in targeted support for low-income households last year alone, including £100 million to mitigate the worst aspects of the UK Government’s welfare cuts. Our £3.5 million fair food fund continues to support community organisations to tackle the causes of food insecurity. We have provided an additional £1 million to FareShare to increase the help that it provides to alleviate the pressures arising from uncertainty around Brexit.
Does the cabinet secretary agree that increased reliance on food banks, including those in Glenrothes and Levenmouth in my constituency, is the most damning indictment of the UK Government’s approach to society’s most vulnerable people, and that the disastrous roll-out of universal credit needs to be halted and the flaws fixed?
I absolutely agree with the point that Jenny Gilruth raises. As I said in my original answer, the Trussell Trust’s report concludes that the UK Government’s welfare cuts are among the key drivers of the increasing demand that it faces. That is why it is absolutely important that we ensure that universal credit is halted and the fundamental flaws that are in-built in its design are fixed. We pointed to that in the debate on universal credit in the chamber last week, when we said that universal credit is undoubtedly increasing hardship, debt and poverty, not just in Glenrothes and Levenmouth but across Scotland. That is why all welfare powers should be in the hands of the Scottish Parliament and not in the hands of the UK Government.