PROPOSALS TO END the need for food banks as a primary response to food insecurity have been published by the Scottish Government. Views are being sought on a draft national plan, which is supported by food bank operators including the Trussell Trust and the Independent Food Aid Network.

The plan follows action during the pandemic to prevent food insecurity through strengthening household incomes and the delivery of cash-first responses to financial hardship.

Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison said: “We share the same vision as food bank operators – they are not a long term solution to poverty. Our draft plan sets out what we will do within our powers – including introducing a shopping voucher pilot scheme – to make food banks the last port of call.

“Over the last year we have invested around £2.5 billion to support low income households, including nearly £1 billion to directly support children. Despite our fixed budget and limited powers we are taking action to support those in poverty, including discussions around establishing a minimum income guarantee for Scotland.

“As part of the right to an adequate standard of living, people need to be able to access food that meets their dietary, social and cultural needs and this plan shows the way forward.”

Sabine Goodwin, co-ordinator of the Independent Food Aid Network, which represents more than 500 food banks across the UK, said: “As the cut to Universal Credit and cost of living increases exacerbate poverty in Scotland, the publication of the draft national plan to end the need for food banks couldn’t be more timely.

“With a cash first, collaborative approach to food insecurity as the cornerstone of this plan, a time when food banks will no longer be needed to plug the gaps left by financial hardship is within sight.”

The draft national plan aligns with the Scottish Government’s national mission to eradicate poverty, the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan and Good Food Nation ambition.

The Scottish Government’s Statement on Food Insecurity and Poverty, published in February, details the Scottish Government’s approach, prioritising action that prevents poverty and promoting cash-first responses alongside holistic support services where needed.

It concludes: “The UK Government needs to recognise that endemic poverty is neither accidental nor inevitable. Social security is a fundamental and inalienable human right. The safety net which it provides has never been more important. Nor has it ever been more scandalous and unnecessary that so many adults and children in our society are continuing to go hungry.”

* Read the Statement on Food Insecurity and Poverty here.

* The Consultation on the draft plan is now open, and closes on 25 January 2022. More information here.

* Source: Scottish Government