Charities highlight food poverty in the UK

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A consortium of charities’ campaign monitoring food poverty in Britain has highlighted a shocking lack of fairness in the UK.

The UK government signed a UN Convention from 1966 setting out basic minimum standards of access to food, clothing and housing, but Westminster system welfare cuts threaten the convention and leave tens of thousands of low-income households in Scotland unable to eat and cloth themselves adequately.

Jamie Burton, chairman of Just Fair, the charity leading the 70-strong consortium of charities, said the group is working with the view to the possibility of triggering a formal UN investigation.

He said: “The rapid spread of UK food poverty shows that we are living in desperate times. Children are going to bed hungry and families are facing the distress and humiliation of needing emergency food parcels, some having had to walk for miles [to get them]. We believe this is wrong.”

Commenting, Jamie Hepburn MSP, Deputy Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee, said:

“It is absolutely shocking that the lack of basic fairness in the UK is leading to a situation whereby the Westminster government is in grave danger of not meeting its international human rights obligations to the most vulnerable citizens.

“As Westminster’s welfare cuts kick in over the coming weeks and months, more and more families will be faced with the stark choice between heating or eating. No family should be faced with such a harsh choice in resource-rich, energy rich, 21st century Scotland – in terms of GDP per head, an independent Scotland would be the sixth-richest country in the OECD.

“This shock report underlines the fact that the UK is the fourth most unequal country in the developed world – a situation that has been created by successive Tory and Labour governments under the Westminster system.

“Labour offer no positive alternative for the people of Scotland; they promised to cut public spending even harsher and deeper than those of Margaret Thatcher – and all Johann Lamont has to offer is a Cuts Commission in Scotland to axe key aspects of the welfare state.

“Instead of being tied to the Westminster system which is causing families the indignity of relying on foodbanks, Scotland urgently needs the powers of an independent country – only achievable with a Yes vote in 2014 – so that decisions are made by people 100 per cent elected in Scotland.”