Food poverty in Scotland must remain a high priority for government

Helen Duddy
Helen Duddy

#stuc2017 In the first motion debated after Ken Loach’s hard-hitting speech to Congress slamming the “conscious cruelty” of the benefits system, Congress pledged to keep up the pressure on the Scottish government to ensure food poverty is eradicated by 2030.

Seconding the motion from the British Dietetic Association, UNISON’s Helen Duddy told Congress that food poverty in Scotland is increasing year on year. Figures published by the Trussell Trust show an increase of 13.65% between 2015 and 2016.

However, Helen warned that these numbers underestimate the scale of the problem as a substantial portion of charitable emergency food in Scotland comes from other providers.

“Food insecurity has varying degrees of severity,” said Helen, “Such as worry – will there be enough food; compromise – on quality variety and quantity; and having to go without food.

“Experiencing hunger is the most severe stage, and this is on the increase,” she added.

She reminded delegates that research into food insecurity in Scotland and the rest of the UK shows a consistent link to low income – from low paid insecure work, lower pay rises and inadequate benefit levels.

Echoing Ken Loach, Helen told delegates that evidence consistently points to problems within the benefit system. These include delays and errors in administration of payments, the imposition of the punitive benefit sanctions and now all the new caps introduced to benefits by the Tory Government in Westminster.

“Let’s stand together, united in not only protecting workers incomes but also eradicating the draconian benefit sanctions and caps imposed in all of our society,” urged Helen.

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