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IFAN's Response: Ending the need for food banks as a primary response to food insecurity

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

IFAN's response to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the draft national plan for ending the need for food banks as a primary response to food insecurity.


Do you think that the approach outlined is consistent with the vision to end poverty and the need for food banks? Is there anything else you think should be included?


Yes.


The Independent Food Aid Network (IFAN) very much welcomes the Scottish Government’s draft national plan for ending the need for food banks and the vision at the heart of it. The Scottish Government’s approach outlined in the plan, including the sections on prevention and response, is consistent with the vision to end poverty and the need for food banks. However, there are additional elements and details that we believe should be included within the final plan to ensure the intended outcome.


IFAN is a UK-wide network of food aid providers including over 550 independent food banks. Our vision is of a country without the need for charitable food aid, where everyone has an adequate income and can afford and access the food that meets their needs and preferences. We advocate for a cash first approach to food insecurity which addresses the poverty driving the need for charitable food aid through income-based solutions. Our membership in Scotland includes 124 independent food banks running in 24 local authorities. We have identified a total of at least 1,172 independent food banks or food parcel distributors across the country. Beyond the combined total of 291 Trussell Trust and independent food banks, the Salvation Army and many schools also run food banks and there are many other types of charitable food aid provider supporting people unable to afford the bare essentials.


The Scottish Government seeks to eradicate poverty and to end the need for food banks as a primary response to food insecurity. However, if the Scottish Government can end poverty, it will also put an end to the need for food banks as a secondary or tertiary response to food insecurity. Moreover, if the Scottish Government can eradicate poverty, it will put an end to the need for charitable food aid. We believe it’s critical to extend the remit of the plan’s vision to “end the need for charitable food aid as a response to food insecurity”. Ending the need for food banks as primary response to food insecurity should not result in the growth of charitable food aid.


Charitable food aid comes in a myriad of forms and many organisations currently distributing food aid may continue to have a role in the future as community food venues. If we are to meet the aim of ending the need for charitable food aid, however, everyone taking part in these initiatives would be there out of choice not due to inadequate income.


In a future without the need for charitable food aid, food surplus redistributors like FareShare would no longer be used to plug gaps left by insufficient social security payments and poorly paid and insecure jobs. Overproduction and poor supply management of some types of food would be addressed separately and disentangled from efforts to mitigate the impact of poverty.


To reduce poverty and the need for charitable food aid, meaningful and significant investment needs to be made to mitigate the impact of recent cuts to the UK social security system as well as its restrictive and punitive elements. Reducing the cost of living, ensuring job security and a real Living Wage, and bolstering advice and wider support services across Scotland are also vital.


In addition to those already outlined in the plan, we recommend the following actions:


  • to mitigate the effects of the cut to Universal Credit, the waiting time for Universal Credit, the benefit cap, the two-child limit, and rates of legacy benefits since the start of the pandemic

  • to mitigate the impact of statutory debt

  • to promote the availability of the Scottish Child Payment and to fast track its increase to children over the age of six

  • to mitigate the impact of No Recourse to Public Funds status

  • to ensure as far as possible that employers provide job security and wages that match the real Living Wage and the cost of living

  • to invest in welfare and debt advice and widen support services

  • to improve access to, promotion, availability, and scale of the Scottish Welfare Fund

  • to improve levels of cash first discretionary support through local authorities

  • to identify and support groups not already listed as being particularly impacted by financial insecurity

  • to invest in mental health and alcohol and addiction recovery services

  • to support the needs of people living with poverty and food insecurity in rural areas


With a vision of ending the need for charitable food aid as a response to food insecurity in mind, we believe it’s important to identify and acknowledge all key stakeholders and their potential roles as part of this. As the draft plan points out, local partnership working is critical but partnership working at a national level is also vital. For the Scottish Government’s plan to be successful, both committed national and local partnership work will be needed.


In addition to stakeholders mentioned in the draft plan, we believe that other national stakeholders have vital roles to play in eradicating poverty and the need for charitable food aid including:


  • supermarket, other food retail, hospitality, food industry stakeholders: by paying a real Living wage, providing job security, not channelling food surplus to food aid providers to meet zero waste targets, and not messaging on child food poverty while not playing their part to ensure adequate incomes for their own employees

  • food surplus redistribution charities: any organisation that openly seeks to mitigate hunger or food insecurity would need to be involved with the plan and work to eradicate poverty rather than conflate the food poverty and food waste problems

  • mental health, drug, and alcohol addiction services: a cash first approach to food insecurity and investment in advice services need to run hand in hand with appropriate investment in and collaboration with these critical services


Continuing to involve people with direct experience of financial hardship in the design and delivery of all aspects of the plan is vital. This should involve adequate resources to ensure that this involvement is meaningful.


Throughout the plan it’s essential that we see clarity on timeframes and the extent to which actions underway will be continued. As called for by the Trussell Trust and IFAN in May 2021, we’d urge the Scottish Government to agree and finalise the plan by June 2022.


We would also like to see acknowledgement and commitment to the level of financial investment needed to drive forward change in all aspects of the plan. Budgets should be realistic, and a sufficient level of detail must be included to ensure a level of confidence appropriate to the breadth of the vision that’s been outlined. There must be sufficient lead time for stakeholders and partnerships to plan effective and efficient delivery.


Do you think that the actions underway will help to reduce the need for food banks as a primary response to food insecurity?

Yes



Do you think that the suggestions for what more we plan to do will help to reduce the need for food banks as a primary response to food insecurity?

Yes



Is there anything else that you think should be done with the powers we have at a national or local level to reduce the need for food banks as a primary response to food insecurity?

Yes.


We believe that the Scottish Government can do more within their powers at a national and local level to reduce the need for food banks and other forms of charitable food aid not just as a primary response, but as a response to food insecurity in general.



Prevention - Fair Work

We welcome the Fair Work Plan, the Gender Pay Gap Action Plan and the Parent Employability Support Fund but believe it’s essential that the Scottish Government do more than promote the payment of the real Living Wage with employers.

Of course, the Scottish Government is constrained by the UK Government in terms of employment law, but we’d suggest that, as part of the national plan, employers are able to commit to playing their part in ending the need for charitable food aid through the payment of a real Living Wage and by ensuring job security for their employees. We’d suggest that the key role of employers be identified within the plan, and that there be a way to facilitate pledges from employers on a real Living Wage and job security to formalise their backing of the plan.

We’d also recommend that more be done to help single parents overcome the barriers they face in finding adequate work due to the cost of childcare.


Prevention - Social security

We’re encouraged to see the recent increase to the Scottish Child Payment and the commitment to introduce bridging payments for those eligible for school meals. It’s positive that existing disability and carer benefit clients are being moved to Social Security Scotland.

We acknowledge that a large proportion of benefit spending for Scotland remains with the UK Government. We’re pleased that the Scottish Government has mitigated the impact of the bedroom tax through discretionary housing payments.


However, there is much more that the Scottish Government can do within its limited powers to reduce poverty levels in Scotland caused by devastating gaps in the UK’s social security system aside from changes to the Scottish Welfare Fund that will be covered at a later stage in our response. It’s essential that the Scottish Government acts as urgently as possible to address poverty levels that are worsening due to the recent cut to Universal Credit and the growing cost of living crisis.


We’d urge the Scottish Government to do the following to mitigate the significant gaps in the UK social security system driving poverty in Scotland:


  • better promote and make the Scottish Child Payment (SCP) easier to access or consider automated payments through Social Security Scotland to eligible parents given we know the recent take up is estimated at around 60%

  • fast track the rollout of the increased SCP for children over the age of six

  • consider bringing in a bridging payment to cover the waiting time for Universal Credit like Northern Ireland’s Universal Credit Contingency Fund

  • consider providing appropriate grants to families impacted by the benefit cap and the two-child limit

  • consider providing appropriate top-up grants to people on legacy benefits who did not benefit from the £20 increase to Universal Credit

  • consider providing appropriate top-up grants to people on Universal Credit to replace the £20 lost through the cut to Universal Credit given that before the pandemic 43% of UK households on Universal Credit were food insecure

  • mitigate against the impact of statutory debt and continue and potentially increase funding for the Council Tax Reduction Scheme


Alongside any, or all, of the above actions, it’s vital to invest in advice and support services to ensure people and support workers know about what’s available to help maximise income. Changes to the social security system must come hand in hand with meaningful investment in advice and support services as well as promotion of these services and the cash first options available to people on low incomes in Scotland.



Prevention – Reducing the cost of living

We welcome the plan to develop an advice services strategy and recognise the significant impact that the Money Talk Team has had. Details as to the scale and nature of investment in advice services is essential as part of an overall strategy to end the need for charitable food aid and continued recognition of the vital role that advice services play is fundamental to the plan.


It would be useful to know the scale at which holistic support services referenced in the draft plan are being funded and to identify a level of investment in advice services across the board that is adequate in terms of the level of current and expected need. As we continue to co-develop cash first referral leaflets across multiple local authorities in Scotland thanks to Scottish Government funding, we are acutely aware that by helping to direct people to advice and support to enable them to access cash first options it’s critical that those advice services are available and able to cope with increasing demand. Some services have asked not to be included on the leaflets because they don’t have the capacity to meet any additional demand. It’s essential to consider how people without phones or are digitally excluded can be better supported to access advice and support services. Food banks are often catalysts for this kind of support, and this vital role needs to be considered as the need for their services is reduced.


We’re pleased to see the Scottish Government’s investment in the Affordable Credit Fund and would urge further investment in this fund given the impact that credit unions can have in increasing household income.


We welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to expand free school eligibility to all primary school pupils and would urge the Scottish Government to outline a time frame for the commitment and to extend this eligibility to all secondary school pupils as well.



Response – The Scottish Welfare Fund and other discretionary supports

The Scottish Welfare Fund is a critical element to ending the need for charitable food aid in Scotland. It has proved to be an invaluable mechanism of support at a time when so many people in England have no such recourse to help at local authority level.


Alongside other partners, IFAN has long advocated for the Scottish Welfare Fund to be well-promoted, easily accessible and to provide adequate payments so it can play a critical part in reducing the need for charitable food aid. The Scottish Welfare Fund features on the ‘Worrying About Money?’ cash first referral leaflets as a key option to help someone facing financial crisis. We welcome the review that is currently underway to evaluate the funding, promotion, take up and accessibility of the Fund. We hope that experts by experience will be fully involved in the review process. However, there is much evidence already in the public domain that would allow the Scottish Government to commit to changes in terms of funding, promotion, take up and accessibility of the Fund ahead of the results of the review. We believe that to reduce the need for charitable food aid in Scotland making urgent improvements to the operation and scale of the Scottish Welfare Fund is key. Given the growing need for food aid, the fact that Scottish Welfare Fund allocations have not been spent in some local authorities makes the need for action more urgent than ever.


In 2019, the A Menu for Change project put together key recommendations for both the Scottish Government and local authorities on how to improve the delivery of the Scottish Welfare Fund and reduce the need for food aid. It’s already clear that dedicated funding for local authorities for the administration and promotion of the Scottish Welfare Fund is vital. People impacted by financial crisis need to be able to access adequate crisis payments immediately. If we’re to see a drop in emergency food bank referrals for people in financial crisis then payments need to be available on the same day.


It’s vital that the Scottish Welfare Fund is accessible to people with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) as is the case for the Discretionary Assistance Fund in Wales. The British Red Cross Scottish Crisis Fund has only limited funding and reach across Scotland and is not well advertised or promoted due to the scale of funding available. Much more needs to be done across local authorities and at a national level to ensure there is adequate cash first support for people with NRPF and being able to access the Scottish Welfare Fund would be key. NRPF status is a key driver of need for our members’ services in Scotland.


Scottish Government support of Discretionary Housing Payments to mitigate the impact of UK Government welfare cuts is invaluable and we would urge further investment in this type of funding.


The £70 million flexible funding was good to see, and we were particularly pleased to see how that funding was used by way of a cash first approach in Argyll and Bute and Moray. And we welcome the finding that “most local authorities shifted from heavily food and fuel-based responses in the first 6 months of the pandemic to direct financial transfers and vouchers”.


The latest Winter Support Fund also has the potential to reduce the need for charitable food aid. It’s very encouraging that it’s been recognised as possible for local authorities to use this funding to help administer and promote the Scottish Welfare Fund. Given the temporary nature and last-minute allocation of this funding, as was the case with the previous flexible funding of £70 million, it is hard for local authorities to rely on these funds to develop a long-term strategy. Building a local authority-led cash first approach to food insecurity necessitates the key element of forward-planning.



Response – Welfare and Debt Advice

The Scottish Government’s investment in welfare and debt advice is promising but the scale of such investment needs to be reviewed as soon as possible. We welcome the work currently being undertaken by the Improvement Service on a future partnership advice model to be incorporated into future advice strategy, but it would be invaluable to be able to access more details and a timeframe on this within the plan.


Investment and prioritisation of advice services is integral to a cash first approach to food insecurity and more needs to be made of this element in terms of change.



Response – Cash first referral leaflets

It’s invaluable that the Scottish Government can support our work to co-develop cash first referral leaflets across local authorities in Scotland. So far, we’ve been able to collaborate with local stakeholders to co-produce ‘Worrying About Money?’ cash first referral leaflets in 21 local authorities across Scotland and are currently working in more areas. Integral to our work is the widening and deepening of the reach of these resources through the exploration of different avenues for dissemination and engagement, and collaboration on training linked to the leaflet and its fundamental step-by-step process. We appreciate the Scottish Government’s help to maximise the reach of this work with various national partners. The recent ScotCen report on the impact of the ‘Worrying About Money?’ leaflets found - “The leaflet has proved to be a useful tool which can help support income maximisation and poverty reduction work at a service, organisational and local authority level. This has been demonstrated by the range of people from local authority, NHS and third sector organisations who have been involved with using and disseminating the leaflet to date”.



Response – Dignified food access

We very much welcome the Scottish Government’s funding that’s allowed the invaluable Dignity Peer Network to grow. FareShare Scotland has played a critical role in supporting frontline food aid providers throughout the pandemic, but we’d be concerned about any further Scottish Government funding of surplus food redistribution given the conflation of the food waste and food poverty problems that desperately needs to be untangled. At its core, food surplus redistribution is at odds with the Dignity Principles. Our member organisations have benefited from and appreciated funding through the Investing in Communities Fund.



Further actions

The Scottish Government’s commitment to begin to work to deliver a Minimum Income Guarantee incorporating the idea of Universal Basic

Services is encouraging with a long-term vision of income-based solutions and ending the need for charitable food aid in mind. However, it must be clearly acknowledged that these steps are unlikely to help reduce the need for charitable food aid within the near future. To deliver a Minimum Income Guarantee by 2030 would require the Scottish Government Parliament to have devolved powers on social security and tax. The Scottish Government needs to ensure that all that can possibly be done to reduce poverty within its existing powers is achieved as soon as possible.



The Scottish Government’s commitment to bringing forward a Human Rights Bill including a right to adequate food as part of an overall right to an adequate standard of living is also welcome. A Right to Food is integral to a plan to end the need for charitable food aid and to ensure that everyone can afford food that meets their needs and preferences.


We are pleased to see the plan to invest in cash first partnerships and the recognition that to ensure food banks are the last port of call requires effective and comprehensive local partnership work. It’s important that the level of investment in these partnerships is realistic in terms of the input that is required, and the scale of impact envisioned among potentially large general populations linked to the work. Ideally cash first partnerships will work across whole local authority areas to maximise the impact of these projects. However, most important is the strength and vision of any local partnership in terms of a cash first approach to food insecurity and ending the need for charitable food aid.


We welcome the shopping card pilot scheme currently underway to help reduce the need for food banks in the here and now, potentially increase choice and dignity for people needing to access support, disrupt default referral pathways to food banks and gather learning. We also welcome the Scottish Government’s recognition that the distribution of shopping cards is a crisis response, that they should be used alongside existing income-boosting responses and “should not replace referrals to the Scottish Welfare Fund or the provision of money advice which will be needed to prevent future hardship”. It’s important to provide clarity on and a detailed explanation of the Scottish Government’s intentions for the shopping card pilot scheme, the use of shopping cards in the future within the final plan and how they do not and will not replace cash first options. We welcome the learning that is emerging from the pilot scheme in terms of how to improve referral pathways and that people with lived experience are informing delivery and next steps.


Recognition of the role of funders is also appreciated in terms of reducing the need for charitable food aid in Scotland. Funders are key stakeholders and their prioritisation of a cash first approach to food insecurity would be very impactful.

We look forward to working with the Scottish Government, and alongside The Trussell Trust and Nourish Scotland to develop transition and exit strategies with our member organisations. This will require meaningful and supported engagement with representatives of our member organisations and other food aid organisations as well as people with experience of accessing charitable food aid.

Our member organisations often provide fundamental contact services within communities. They take on the role of a community hub providing advice, other services and often are a critical “listening ear”. It’s essential that the work of food banks beyond immediate food support is recognised within the road map towards a society without the need for charitable food aid.


Practical and strategic support is needed for food bank teams to consider how they might continue their vital roles within communities when the charitable food aid element is no longer needed. A decade ago, all food banks might have imagined being able to close their doors with immediate effect but as food banks have become part of the fabric of communities it’s vital to carefully plan for transition. Exit strategies should focus on confidence in support and advice services and the availability of cash first options at a local level. In some cases, food aid providers are already running various strands of work and taking the food parcel element away is straightforward to imagine. For others the central role that food parcel provision plays within their organisation means locally driven strategic plans are vital.


Food aid providers would need to be reassured that their role in providing a contact service/signposting role is recognised and valued as the charitable food aid element is removed. It may be possible to turn off the need for food support but the multidimensional role of food banks in communities in providing additional contact/signposting support may be needed indefinitely or until such time that other services are sufficiently bolstered and provide adequate support.

People facing financial crisis need to feel confident in the local community support, including local authority support, advice services and cash first options that are available. While anyone working with a food bank, or other type of food aid provider, will need to feel confident that the local partnership in their community, with or without their involvement, is able to provide all the advice and support that’s needed.



Targeting inequalities

We welcome the identification of groups more likely to experience financial insecurity as laid in the draft plan, but our member organisations suggest that there are key groups missing from this list. They very often support single men both living in a household or impacted by homelessness or having just left prison and expected to wait for Universal Credit payment with no interim support. It’s also important to target people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Another group that is missing is older people, often digitally excluded and not able to ask for support. We would also recommend that there is an urgent focus on the needs of people impacted by poverty living in rural communities.

The guidance for local authorities on tackling food insecurity and its reference to pre-existing inequalities and an intersectional approach is welcome but needs to be updated to reflect the ongoing situation and the role that targeting inequalities across various groups can play within the plan to eradicate poverty and end the need for charitable food aid.



Do you have any views on how we intend to measure impact, and what would give you confidence that we are moving in the right direction?

As we’ve previously stated we hope that the terminology of the vision will be extended to incorporate ending the need for charitable food aid as a response to food insecurity.


It’s critical that measurement of the impact of this work is robust and undertaken on a regular basis. The level of investment for any analysis must reflect the significance of the plan and the need for confidence to grow within local communities, and across the country, that actions being taken are indeed ending the need for charitable food aid in Scotland.


We welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to use the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Family Resources Survey (FRS) and the Scottish Health Survey (SHeS) to measure change.


We firmly believe that the disaggregation of food insecurity in terms of financial access (affordability) and geographic access to food is vital in monitoring the extent to which income-based solutions, or a cash first approach, impacts on food insecurity. We cannot know that cash first solutions are reducing poverty-driven food insecurity if the food insecurity measurement questions used conflate affordability and access to food.


It would be useful for the plan to provide details as to how the FRS’s increase in sample size to 45,000 and the addition of the two questions to the survey on food bank use, covering both a one-month and 12-month recall period, will be used to measure the impact of the plan.


We welcome the fact that the SHeS asks questions covering a 12-month time frame which allows unique data regarding Scotland given the FRS food insecurity questions refer only to the previous 30 days. It would be useful to be reassured that the number of SHeS questions might increase from the three questions asked in 2021 and previous years to allow additional evaluation through the Food Insecurity Experience Scale. We recognise the opportunity for long-term monitoring that data collated through the SHeS from as early as 2017 can provide. We also recognise the SHeS as a key measure linked to the Scottish Government’s aims to achieve Sustainable Development Goal commitments on ending hunger, eradicating poverty, and ensuring good health and wellbeing.


Above all, we believe that it’s vital that food insecurity is measured in terms of the general population at local authority level. Given the welcome ambition to support the development of local cash first partnerships, to ensure the development of local cash first referral pathways and the evaluation of income-boosting measures, the accurate measurement of poverty-driven food insecurity at local authority level is essential. We cannot know that cash first interventions in local areas are making a difference without poverty-driven food insecurity measurement at local authority level.


Ideally, food insecurity would be measured across all local authorities in Scotland. This would ensure an invaluable analysis of the impact of the actions detailed in the plan. At the very least, there should be data collected in local authorities where cash first partnerships are developing as well as in some local authorities without partnerships. This will provide comparative data to assess progress.


We would suggest that the ten USDA/DWP food insecurity measurement questions be used as well as the new food bank questions currently out in the field with the FRS. This would enable comparison with results from the DWP’s Family Resources Survey which uses financial resources-linked food insecurity measurement questions and would allow comparison of data by household type and other useful variables.


And, given the significance and ambition of the national plan, we’d suggest that food insecurity measurement questions are part of a wider survey across local authorities specifically linked to key elements outlined in the plan.


Beyond the key 10 USDA food insecurity measurement questions and the food bank questions suggested, this wider survey would include questions linked to:


  • knowledge, confidence in, availability and use of advice, income-boosting and holistic support services

  • knowledge, confidence in, availability and use of the Scottish Welfare Fund

  • knowledge, confidence in, availability and use of the Scottish Child Payment

  • improved household resilience

  • improved household well-being


This survey could provide key additional data to complement the independent evaluation of work to improve referral pathways and disseminate good practice examples as outlined in the plan involving people needing support and frontline practitioners. Critical to this independent evaluation is understanding the levels of confidence in changes on the ground in people with experience of financial hardship, support workers and food bank and other food aid provision teams. Food aid provision teams need to feel confident in alternative local options and that the need to distribute food parcels is reducing.


IFAN will be happy to support with data collated from our member organisations and the wider independent sector. However, it’s critical to acknowledge that data representing part of the independent sector combined with Trussell Trust data cannot accurately reflect the scale of food insecurity across local authorities. IFAN’s data has proved to be a vital piece of the puzzle, and even more so since the Trussell Trust’s recent drop in numbers, but we know our figures only represent part of the story. Even if we could ascertain the true scale of independent food parcel distribution across every local authority in Scotland and combined this with Trussell Trust and Salvation Army data, it’s clear that this would only represent the tip of the iceberg in terms of levels of food insecurity across local authorities. We know from a variety of sources that most people living with food insecurity will not access a food bank.


Is there anything else that you think should be considered in the development of this plan?



Poverty and food insecurity in rural areas

It is also critical that the plan also addresses concerns faced by people in rural areas and outlines specific solutions. People living with poverty in rural areas are particularly impacted by:


  • the cost of fuel often limited to more expensive electricity due to lack of gas availability

  • the cost of food and lack of variety in local shops

  • lack of transport and the cost of available transport; not only exorbitant bus fares and reduced frequency to nearby towns but impractical bus trips for single parents, disabled people, and older people

  • lack of support services including lack of mental health services and job centres

  • lack of internet connectivity and phone access

  • increased isolation

  • high house prices and rent costs because of the impact on the market of holiday lets and second homes


The poverty premium impacts people on low incomes in rural areas in particular ways and this needs to be reflected in the plan. Again, involving people with direct experience of financial hardship in rural areas in responding to these concerns is vital.



Disabled people

It is also critical that the needs of and impact of poverty and food insecurity on disabled people, one fifth of Scotland’s population, are fully acknowledged and acted on in the plan. Scottish Government National Statistics show that relative poverty rates are higher when a household member is disabled. In 2017-2020, the relative poverty rate was 23% for people in a household where someone is disabled compared to 17% for people in a household without disabled members. Even before the pandemic, statistics from the Family Resources Survey across the UK for 2019-2020 found that 19% of households with one or more disabled adults have marginal, low or very low food security, compared to 10% of households with no disabled adults. And “there is a direct link between poverty, disability, and people’s ability to afford food. We also know that disability can be a determining factor for falling into financial crisis, and shape how an individual experiences food insecurity.” Legacy benefit claimants did not receive the £20 uplift and three-quarters of legacy benefit claimants across the UK are disabled people on Employment Support Allowance.



Mental health and addiction support services

Although there is mention of holistic support services in the plan, it’s vital to acknowledge that some people using food banks are impacted by complex needs and would benefit from a wide range of support. Access to mental health and addiction support services must come hand and hand with advice services and an increase in availability of cash first options. The long-term damage of chronic poverty cannot be underestimated or ignored, and consideration must be given to the way that support can be given to help people move on from living with persistent poverty.



Affordable transport

As mentioned above, transport costs can significantly impact people’s ability to afford the basics, as well as access advice, support, and training. We support the Poverty Alliance’s Everyone Aboard Campaign that is calling for free bus passes to be extended to people on Universal Credit and people under 25. Any changes should meaningfully involve the input of people with direct experience of financial hardship as soon as plans start to be made.



Affordable housing

We would very much welcome increased investment in affordable housing given the impact that the current housing crisis has on people’s ability to afford food. As previously mentioned, continuation of, and increased support for Discretionary Housing Payments would be invaluable.

The Scottish Government’s commitment to ending the need for food banks and a cash first approach to food insecurity is inspiring. We look forward to working with the Scottish Government, local authorities, our member organisations and other charitable food aid providers, people with direct experience of financial hardship, frontline advice and support agencies, employers, and others on a ground-breaking plan to end the need for charitable food aid as a response to food insecurity in Scotland.



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