Ending the need for food banks: consultation on a draft national plan

This consultation seeks views on the Scottish Government's vision and approach to ending the need for food banks as a primary response to food insecurity, and invites further suggestions on what more can be done to shape a national plan. Views are sought by 25 January 2022.

What more we plan to do

14. Further to the below initial actions, this consultation seeks your views on the practical actions the Scottish Government and other actors can take to end the need for food banks as a primary response to food insecurity.

Prevention – Minimum Income Guarantee and Universal Basic Services

The Scottish Government has committed to beginning work to deliver a Minimum Income Guarantee, to help ensure that everyone in Scotland can live healthy, financially secure and fulfilling lives. We have met our commitment to engage with stakeholders within the first 100 days of this government to start considering how it can be delivered, and have invited cross-party and expert representatives to form a Steering Group to progress delivery. This work will also incorporate the idea of Universal Basic Services, which by ensuring people have access to the provision of basic services – such as childcare of the NHS for example – contributes to ensuring a minimum standard of living.

Prevention – Strengthen the protection of human rights, including the right to food as contained within the right to an adequate standard of living

In taking forward the recommendations of the National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership, the Scottish Government will bring forward a Human Rights Bill to give effect to a wide range of internationally recognised rights in Scots law. Our Bill will incorporate into Scots law, as far as possible within devolved competence, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This includes a right to adequate food, as an essential part of the overall right to an adequate standard of living.

Response – Invest in cash-first local partnership work to make food banks the last port of call

Strengthening partnership working between sectors and services can improve the effectiveness of existing local responses to financial hardship, including by increasing access to emergency financial assistance, money advice and holistic support services to help make food banks the last port of call. We have convened a Steering Group on Ending the Need for Food Banks which will guide investment in cash-first partnerships, applying learning and good practice examples from the pandemic response and looking at the success of similar interventions elsewhere.

What this will likely look like in practice is the preparation of a locally shared ambition to end the need for food banks as the first port of call, meeting whole needs and preventing future crisis. This will mean food banks, money advice services, local authority officers including those from the Scottish Welfare Fund and public health teams coming together to identify the best response for their local area and agreeing short, medium and long term actions to deliver it. This approach draws on the learning of the A Menu for Change partnership project, the Independent Food Aid's cash-first referral leaflets and early insights from the Trussell Trust's pathfinders project.

Response – Pilot the use of shopping vouchers in place of food bank referrals

Frontline services often report that where someone is experiencing immediate hardship, a referral to a food bank is the most practical way to support them to access food. We will pilot the use of shopping vouchers as an alternative option, building on the Independent Food Aid Network's initial research.

The pilot will initially focus on advice providers within the Citizen Advice Scotland network. The reason for this is that money advisers are one of the main referrers to food banks, and co-location of voucher support may also help to increase the take up of money advice and referrals to emergency financial assistance. The views of people with direct experience will inform delivery and next steps.

As this is a crisis response, it would need to operate alongside existing income-boosting responses and should not replace referrals to the Scottish Welfare Fund or the provision of money advice which will be needed to prevent future hardship.

Response – Develop shared values between national food insecurity funders on access to emergency financial assistance and holistic support services

We will work with other national funders, including the National Lottery Community Fund, Robertson Trust and CORRA Foundation to develop shared values linked to this national plan that help to further prioritise action that reduces the need for food banks.

This will draw on the learning and experience of established organisations as well as those that have recently established or pivoted towards food aid responses since the onset of the pandemic. It will emphasise the importance of further integrating income-boosting and holistic support services within responses, and include practical support to transition away from emergency food approaches.

Response - Work with the Trussell Trust and Independent Food Aid Network to support their food bank transition and exit strategies

The two largest food bank networks in Scotland, the Trussell Trust and the Independent Food Aid Network, have outlined a shared ambition to end the need for their services. We will work alongside them, their members and people with direct experience of accessing food aid to provide practical assistance in developing transition and exit strategies – including by learning from the Trussell Trust's Pathfinder Programme.


Email: foodinsecurityteam@gov.scot

Back to top