Cash-First: Towards ending the need for food banks in Scotland Equality Impact Assessment

The Equality Impact Assessment considers the impact of the Scottish Government’s Cash-First Plan and associated actions to improve the response to financial crisis and reduce the need for emergency food parcels


The Scottish Government’s 2021 and 2022 Programmes for Government committed to publishing a Plan, grounded in human rights, that sets out the further action we will take to improve the response to hardship so as to reduce the need for food banks. This is a cornerstone of our commitment to tackling poverty, protecting and fulfilling the right to food and achieving our Good Food Nation ambition.

A draft Plan was developed with contributions from a stakeholder steering group and direct experience reference group, and this was published for consultation between 20 October 2021 and 25 January 2022.[1] There were over 400 responses[2] and an independent analysis of views has been published.[3] This reaffirmed a shared consensus across Scotland, including among food banks and other food aid providers, for a human rights informed approach to ensure that everyone can afford an adequate diet.

Since then, the rising cost of living has caused more people to cut back, skip meals, seek assistance from food banks, and in extreme cases to go without food completely. Food bank networks are reporting unprecedented demand for their services, but have also indicated that some Scottish Government interventions such as the Scottish Child Payment may have helped to slow the pace of demand for some households.[4]

On 5 June 2023, the Scottish Government published “Cash-First- Towards ending the need for food banks in Scotland” (the Plan).[5] This details the nine targeted actions the Scottish Government will take over the next three years, alongside other public bodies, local services and anti-poverty organisations to improve the response to crisis and start to reduce the need for emergency food parcels. The learning from these actions will help to identify scalable interventions that move us closer towards our longer term ambition of a Scotland without the need for food banks, which we will continue to pursue to the fullest of our power and resource.

Our shared ambition is that everyone has a sufficient and secure income to be able to access food that meets their needs and preferences. Where financial hardship occurs, coordinated local responses are in place which prioritise cash-first assistance and integrate money advice and other holistic support services to reduce the need for food aid and prevent future hardship. Where help to access food is still needed, this is provided in a way that maximises dignity.



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