Scotland politics

Plans to enshrine 'a right to access to food' in Scots Law

Food package Image copyright Jonathan Brady/PA

The Scottish government has confirmed it is considering enshrining a right to access to food in Scots Law.

It is one of the recommendations in a report published by the Independent Working Group on Food Poverty.

The group said the change to the legal system would "not in itself end food insecurity".

But it would mean the government and other public bodies had "a duty to ensure everyone has secure access to adequate and affordable food".

The Scottish government said it wanted to create a sustainable solution to tackling food poverty across Scotland.

The proposition would mean the Scottish government being open to legal challenge on how well it was implementing food policies and resources.

Other recommendations accepted by the government include introducing a system to measure food security in Scotland, and calling on the UK government to help reduce the risk of sanctions and benefit delays in the welfare system.

The charity Trussell Trust has reported a rise in the use of food banks in recent years, with problems with benefits identified as the most significant reason for the increase.

'Symptom of wider poverty'

The working group was set up by Scottish ministers in October 2015 to examine food insecurity and poverty.

Equalities secretary Angela Constance said: "We have been very clear - no one should have to rely on emergency food provision in a country as prosperous as Scotland.

"As the report from the working group highlighted, food poverty is a symptom of wider poverty and the UK government's harmful welfare cuts and benefit sanctions regime has clearly pushed more and more people into an income crisis, increasing the demand for emergency food.

"We want to create a sustainable solution to tackling food poverty across Scotland, and therefore I am committed to exploring a range of options, including looking into potentially enshrining the right to food into Scots Law.

"We will continue to work closely with individual projects to help them develop sustainable solutions to tackle food poverty.

"This means not only giving people opportunities to access fresh and healthy food, but to share a meal in the community and develop new skills, helping achieve a longer-term solution to food poverty."

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