Scottish Government announces £518,000 funding to tackle food poverty

Funding aimed at tackling food poverty is being allocated to 26 projects across Scotland.

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A total of £518,000 will be given to schemes including food banks in 17 local authority areas.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made the announcement during a visit to a food bank in Maryhill, Glasgow, which will receive almost £40,000.

It comes as charity the Trussell Trust said the number of people who used its food banks in Scotland between April 1 2013 and March 31 this year rose to 71,428 - a 400% increase.

The figure was five times the number of the previous year, and includes more than 22,000 children, it said.

In April, the Scottish Government announced a £1 million investment in food aid through the Emergency Food Fund. Half of that has already been allocated to the charity FareShare, which redistributes surplus food from retailers to charities.

Ms Sturgeon said the amount of people experiencing food poverty in Scotland is "simply not acceptable".

"Most people recognise that the increase in food bank use is directly linked to welfare reform and benefit cuts, and this fund is another example of what we are doing to mitigate the harmful effects of Westminster's welfare cuts. However, the impact is still being felt by the most vulnerable in our society," she said.

"One million people in Scotland are now living in relative poverty after housing costs, including more than 200,000 children. What is even more worrying is that 70% of the welfare cuts are still to come - Scotland will see its welfare budget reduced by over £6 billion by 2015/16. And some estimates suggest that up to 100,000 more children could be living in poverty by 2020 if we continue with Westminster policies.

"It is vital that we gain the full powers of independence in order to build a better Scotland - one that protects people from poverty and helps them fulfil their potential in work and life."

Labour's Jackie Baillie said: "Nicola Sturgeon today admitted that there would be food banks in an independent Scotland but ruled out taking effective measures to tackle the causes of food banks such as increased tax rises for the rich.

"Well, we in the Scottish Labour Party are more ambitious for Scotland than that. The Nationalists do not have a credible or costed plan for welfare in a separate Scotland. Scottish Labour will remove the need for food banks and we will build a fairer Scotland by restoring the 50p tax rate for people earning more than £150,000 a year.

"Warm words from Nicola won't end poverty. The only thing the SNP have said about tax is that they will cut corporation tax lower even than (Chancellor) George Osborne for big business and bankers. People know that you cannot have Scandinavian-style welfare on US levels of taxation.

"We know that there will be more austerity with independence and the poorest will end up being hit the hardest. If the people of Scotland say no thanks, we can then concentrate on the real issues which face the people of Scotland."

The Poverty Alliance welcomed the funding announcement but said the underlying causes of food poverty need to be addressed.

Director Peter Kelly said: "Both governments need to re-think how we support people so that no one is left without enough money to provide food for their family in 21st century Scotland."

Local government

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