Local action to tackle food insecurity: summary of activities, trends and learning

This report summarises the activities delivered by local authorities using flexible funding streams on financial insecurity over October 2020 – March 2021, and highlights trends and learning to enhance future policy and practice.


  • Proactive outreach to those known to be at risk enabled issues to be picked up early, reducing stress and more easily facilitating wrap-around support.
  • Where access to income boosting services and money advice are prioritised as the first port of call this can help to reduce the need for food aid, and reduce the likelihood of future hardship.
  • Multi-sectoral partnerships with a shared aim and clear pathways between services can make more effective use of existing resources.
  • Practice development resources and opportunities are welcomed by local leads;
    • The published Scottish Government Guidance was found to be a helpful reference point, providing the right balance between a strong steer and local discretion
    • Official-led informal information exchange was most useful where it provided insights in to what other local authority areas are delivering, and where it was shared early enough to inform high-level decision making
    • There is interest in more formal methods of practice development, a number of local leads have asked for published reports, case studies and webinars to draw on – with a particular focus on moving away from emergency responses and in to more preventative and transformative interventions.
  • Local leads welcomed having resource to provide discretionary short term assistance in the pandemic context, though the Social Security Committee has emphasised the importance of national entitlements for longer term need.
  • Data sharing agreements with DWP, HMRC and the Social Security Scotland would make it easier to administer income boosting support. Where data matching exercises were possible between relevant locally administered entitlements, there was a subsequent high uptake in awards.
  • Short term funding allocations provided flexibility to trial different approaches but came with challenges around set up and evaluation of new interventions

The learning is informing delivery of wider commitments, including the Social Renewal Advisory Board’s recommendation of investment and support for local food partnership work and the First Minister’s commitment to a national plan of action to end the need for food banks.

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