Scottish Government considers giving food banks centralised funding amid rising demand

The issue was raised with MPSs through a public petition

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The Scottish Government is to consider whether struggling food banks should be given centralised funding to help them meet the rising demand for hand outs, after the issue was raised with MSPs through a public petition.

John Beattie, a local radio DJ from Glasgow who collects donations for the city’s South West Food Bank, presented the petition to MSPs at the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, arguing that “direct funding” should be provided from Holyrood.

However, MSPs are understood to be concerned about the idea of food banks becoming “institutionalised” and eventually seen as just another part of the welfare state, rather than as emergency support for people who are desperate for help.

 

Last year, a report by the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee described food banks as “a sign of a Dickensian model of welfare which should have no place in a prosperous nation”, warning that they should not be “welded in the infrastructure of the welfare state”.

According to food bank charity the Trussell Trust, 117,689 people in Scotland were provided with three days' worth of emergency food in the year to March. In 2011/12, the figure was only 5,726.

Michael McMahon, Convener of the Public Petitions Committee, said MSPs would be seeking the views of food aid charities such as the Trussell Trust as well as Scottish local councils before making any recommendations. Evidence from other countries with centralised food banks – such as Canada – will also be considered.

“The evidence from there is that once the state starts to control food banks, they become part of the welfare state,” he told i. “People would go to a food bank just as easily as they would go to a GP or a health centre. Actually, what we should be trying to do is eliminate the need for food banks.”

Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil said the Scottish Government was already providing £1m over two years to help fight food poverty. “We want to help food aid providers support even more people and make sure those using food banks are able to access appropriate advice and support,” he added.

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