Food Banks

– in the Scottish Parliament on 24th March 2022.

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Photo of Colin Beattie Colin Beattie Scottish National Party

4. To ask the Scottish Government whether it will provide an update on the consultation on a draft national plan to end the need for food banks. (S6O-00921)

Photo of Shona Robison Shona Robison Scottish National Party

No one should have to rely on charitable food provision, which is why we are developing a national plan to end the need for food banks. There have been more than 400 responses to our consultation, which will now be independently analysed to inform our final national plan.

My aim is that the plan will further progress our human rights approach and strengthen our cash-first response. There are early indications that the approach is making a difference, with the Trussell Trust reporting a marked reduction in the number of emergency food bank parcels in Scotland between April and September 2021 compared with 2019.

Photo of Colin Beattie Colin Beattie Scottish National Party

I welcome the Scottish Government’s announcement that it plans to increase eight Scottish social security benefits by 6 per cent from 1 April. I hope that that will help to support my constituents who have been impacted by United Kingdom Government welfare cuts.

Does the cabinet secretary share my concerns about the growing demand for food banks and the impact that UK Government welfare cuts have had on the most vulnerable people in our society?

Photo of Shona Robison Shona Robison Scottish National Party

Yes, I do. That is why I am committed to publishing a plan that will use the powers that we have to make food banks the last port of call. We have been doing all we can to mitigate the impact of cuts and, last year, we invested more than £2.5 billion to support low-income households. However, we do all that with one hand tied.

Colin Beattie referred to benefit cuts. The devastating cut to universal credit was the biggest overnight cut to benefits since the welfare state was established. Yesterday, the chancellor’s statement was a missed opportunity that completely failed to help people in need, as evidenced by devastating analysis that has been carried out by the Resolution Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.