THE Independent Food Aid Network has welcomed the ‘cash-first’ approach to tackling food insecurity at the heart of the Scottish Government’s new plan to reduce the need for people to turn to food banks.

The plan, published on 5 June, is underpinned by human rights and sets out nine actions which will be taken over the next three years to improve responses to food insecurity.

Scotland’s Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “Whilst none of us want food banks, we recognise the important role they play for people in need. This plan, the first of its kind by any UK Government, will support people who face food insecurity and will move us closer to our longer-term ambition of a country where there is no need for food banks.

“We want to ensure we reach people in need and by providing a cash-first approach, backed by advice and support, we will support people to strengthen their incomes and prevent future hardship and crisis, allowing them more choice and dignity.”

Sabine Goodwin, Coordinator of the Independent Food Aid Network, said: “Food bank use and severe food insecurity are continuing to rise at unprecedented rates across the UK. The Scottish Government can reduce food insecurity and adopt a truly cash first, income-focused strategy to end the need for charitable food aid in Scotland.

“We welcome Cash-First – towards ending the need for food banks in Scotland and the Scottish Government’s commitment to critical steps towards a cash first future. No other government has pushed forward a vision that could see food banks relegated to history.

“The Scottish Government’s commitment to cash-first partnerships, the Citizens Advice Scotland shopping card pilot, investment in advice services and the ‘Worrying About Money?’ cash first referral leaflet project are very positive but much increased investment in the Scottish Welfare Fund is urgently required. The Scottish Welfare Fund must be well-funded, properly promoted and adequately administered in every local authority in Scotland.

“As Scotland’s poverty crisis deepens, frontline teams are more determined than ever to see a time when no one needs to turn to any form of charitable food aid provision to get by. IFAN member organisations are committed to a cash first approach to food insecurity.

“Given the scale of hardship being faced by hundreds of thousands of people, further actions must rapidly be taken. These must increase people’s incomes further, including raising the Scottish Child Payment to £40 a week, ending reliance on surplus food as a response to food insecurity and measuring the impact of any concrete cash first actions outlined in today’s plan.

“In spite of the UK Government’s poverty-driving policies, the Scottish Government is making history today. However, further bold actions are imperative to ensure that a cash first future can indeed be built where no one needs to turn to a charitable food aid provider.”

* Read: Cash-First – towards ending the need for food banks in Scotland here.

* Sources: Independent Food Aid Network and Scottish Government