Food Bank Play To Highlight Issues In Holyrood Premiere
21 November 2018, 06:38
Scottish ministers are being urged to do more to help the country's poorest families "avoid a winter of misery".
Ahead of a special production about the experiences of food bank users, the group A Menu for Change urged the Scottish Government to use its powers to "top up the incomes of hard-up families".
The campaign group - which includes Oxfam Scotland, the Child Poverty Action Group and others - said while the current "crisis" was being driven by Westminster, SNP ministers could also act.
It is staging the Scottish premiere of the factual drama of Food Bank As It is in the Scottish Parliament, before taking the production to both Edinburgh and Glasgow.
It comes after the Trussell Trust, which runs food banks throughout the UK, handed out more than 170,000 parcels to people in need in Scotland last year - a rise of 17%.
The trust has already revealed demand at some of its centres has increased by up to 80% after the rollout of Universal Credit welfare reforms.
Polly Jones, project manager of A Menu for Change, said the play had been written by London food bank manager Tara Osman to reflect the lives and experiences of those struggling to feed their families.
Ms Jones said: "It's appalling that in a rich country like Scotland, more and more people are turning to food banks because they don't have enough money to buy food, a problem which is being exacerbated by the disastrous rollout of Universal Credit.
"There's no question this is a crisis driven by UK Government cuts but it's important to remember that the Scottish Government isn't powerless to tackle the effects of policies made at Westminster.
"If we're going to avoid a winter of misery with countless people facing hunger, then it's time for ministers to live up to their promise to top up the incomes of hard-up families across Scotland."
The Scottish Government's Communities Minister Aileen Campbell said: "Tackling poverty and inequality is a central mission of the Scottish Government which is why we brought forward the Child Poverty Act and ambitious new targets to end child poverty by 2030.
"Our Tackling Child Poverty Plan includes a Best Start Grant for low income families - which will begin payments before Christmas, £12 million for intensive employment support for parents, and to work towards the introduction of a new Income Supplement.
"We are working on the development of the income supplement now. This is a complex undertaking, and it is critical that we take the time to properly consider and ensure we get it right and ensure it meets our two key principles of reaching the greatest number of children living in poverty, and that it helps lift families out of poverty.
"We know this will not be easy and we need to take the right action to reduce and ultimately eradicate child poverty."