Scottish Labour unveils plan to end food banks

SCOTTISH Labour has unveiled a plan to end the need for food banks, as figures show more than 60 children a day are relying on food hand-outs.
Jim Murphy takes supplies to a food bank in the Gorbals. Picture: John DevlinJim Murphy takes supplies to a food bank in the Gorbals. Picture: John Devlin
Jim Murphy takes supplies to a food bank in the Gorbals. Picture: John Devlin

Party leader Jim Murphy has made an election pledge to establish a £175 million anti-poverty fund in Scotland, claiming Labour is “the only party of social justice”.

Figures show that in 2013/14, 22,387 children used food banks in Scotland, equating to at least 61 youngsters a day, the party said.

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More than 3,000 Scots children had to use food banks in December last year alone.

Scottish Labour said low income, benefit delays and welfare reform are the main reasons people are forced to ask for food hand-outs.

It pointed to UK Tory plans to cut welfare spending by £12 billion in the next parliament and said that, by contrast, Labour has a plan to end the need for food banks in Scotland.

Aside from establishing the £175 million fund, the plan includes abolishing the “hated bedroom tax”, and government targets for benefit sanctions.

They would also ban “exploitative” zero-hour contracts, raise the minimum wage and cap energy bills.

Speaking ahead of a visit to an Edinburgh food bank today, Mr Murphy said: “Nothing makes me angrier about the Tory government and its austerity policies, than the sight of children queueing for food hand-outs.

“If it was not for the generosity of their fellow Scots, tens of thousands of people, including thousands of children, would be going hungry tonight.

“Scottish Labour promises to end the need for food banks. The causes of poverty are complex, which is why our plan is wide-ranging, from capping energy bills and banning rip-off rents to setting up a Scottish Anti-Poverty fund to provide practical help.

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“By contrast the Tories are planning £12 billion of more cuts to our welfare state, and they don’t even have the courage or the honesty to tell us where these cuts will fall.”

He went on: “Scottish Labour is the only party of social justice. We stand up for working class families, for people who, through no fault of their own, need a helping hand.

“We have to get rid of the Tories in May. Only Labour is big enough and strong enough across the UK to kick them out.

“A vote for any other party just gives David Cameron a chance to hang on, and continue his legacy of food banks and poverty.”