The statistics show that Scotland is the only area of the United Kingdom to see a marked reduction in the number of emergency food parcels, with a 25 per cent reduction between April and September compared with 2019. However, no one should have to rely on charitable food provision, and we are currently consulting on a national plan to end the need for food banks as a primary response.
The Government’s human rights approach means that we promote a cash-first response to hardship and, as we have seen in our budget, we are focused on boosting the incomes of low-income households, which is key to decreasing the need for food banks.
Scotland is the only area in the UK that has seen a marked decrease in the number of emergency food parcels in the past six months, as the cabinet secretary has just noted. That has been credited to the Scottish child payment, which was introduced by the Scottish Government.
In a damning report that was released on Monday, the New Economics Foundation says that the poorest half of families are worse off since Boris Johnson came to power, while the richest have seen their income boom. Does the cabinet secretary think that that shows a tale of two Governments and that, while the Scottish Government doubles the Scottish child payment, the UK Government cuts universal credit by £20—
I think that Siobhian Brown makes an important point. UK Government welfare cuts are driving hardship and pushing people to food banks. Its punitive approach takes money out of the pockets of those who can least afford it. That includes the deeply concerning cut to universal credit, which represented the biggest single cut to welfare in 70 years.
The Scottish Government’s doubling of the Scottish child payment to £20 from April 2022 is among the ways in which we have shown leadership that the UK Government simply has not shown. It is time that it matched our ambition in tackling child poverty.