The SNP Scottish Government has prioritised food security before the pandemic due to the harmful impacts of Tory Government welfare cuts, and will continue to do so through the recovery from the Coronavirus crisis.
Over the past year, the SNP Scottish Government have allocated over £1 billion to help people and communities in Scotland impacted by Covid-19, including:
- making over £140 million available since the outset of the pandemic to tackle food insecurity including boxes for those shielding and around £51 million to continue Free School Meal provision during school closures, holidays and periods of online learning up to Easter 2021;
- putting £14.4 million in the pockets of families for over 144,000 children through our £100 COVID Winter Hardship Payment – with £16.8 million committed for a further spring payment, reaching up to 168,000 children; and
- significantly increasing investment in the Scottish Welfare Fund, distributing £57.5 million to ensure support is available for those in need, including an additional £22 million which was distributed to local authorities in response to the Coronavirus outbreak to support people unable to afford the likes of food and fuel.
Even before the pandemic, millions of families across the UK were already struggling with debt and turning to food banks as a result of Tory austerity policies.
Therefore, the SNP has been calling on the Tory Government to make the £20 uplift to Universal Credit permanent and extend it to the many disabled people and lone parents on legacy benefits who have missed out on much needed support, as well as to scrap poverty-inducing policies such as the bedroom tax, the benefit cap, and the two-child limit.
Whilst 85% of welfare expenditure and income-replacement benefits remain reserved to Westminster, the SNP Scottish Government has been using its limited devolved powers to prevent the number of families relying on food banks from increasing further.
The SNP Scottish Government recognise that one of the key drivers to tackling poverty is increasing family incomes, including through social security. That is why, we have made over 148,000 Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods payments, putting £46.9 million in the pockets of low-income families to help with expenses during a child’s early years.
The game-changing Scottish Child Payment has now started making payments to thousands of families. Using new social security powers, Scotland is the only part of the UK introducing this ambitious measure to tackle child poverty.
We have also introduced Baby Boxes, which provide families with essential items needed in the first six months of a child’s life.
If re-elected, we will:
- begin work to deliver a Minimum Income Guarantee to ensure our recovery delivers a fairer Scotland for everyone no matter their circumstances;
- double the Scottish Child Payment to £20 per child per week to lift thousands of families and children out of poverty and provide a cash grant of £520 for every family with children in receipt of free school meals until the full rollout of Scottish Child Payment is complete;
- publish a new four year delivery plan to lift children out of poverty, backed by a £50 million fund;
- increase the amount of Best Start Food payments to £4.50 per week and increase eligibility by around 50% to all in receipt of Universal Credit – backed by £20 million;
- guarantee the budget for the Scottish Welfare Fund and carry out a review of its purpose and operation to make sure it works as well as possible in all parts of the country; and
- enshrine the right to food in law as the cornerstone of being a Good Food Nation, which will form part of our commitment to incorporate UN Human Rights charters into Scots Law.