At a committee today (25 September), Glasgow City Council gave its response to the Report of the Independent Working Group on Food Poverty.
The council's General Purposes Policy Development Committee has agreed to hold an inquiry into food poverty / food inequality in the city, acting on the recommendations of the national report 'Dignity: Ending Hunger Together in Scotland'.
The purpose of the inquiry is to consider:
The scale of food inequality in the city and what is already happening to address it;
What steps the city can take to prevent food poverty / inequality. Most of these issues will relate to people's income, financial inclusion and the impact of benefit changes and sanctions;
How the city can make the best use of the services and approaches already available, and respond more effectively. This will include looking at a range of services in a local area; and
What the city can do to invest in longer-term sustainable solutions. This will look at what more can be done to make people less reliant on food banks and alternatives such as food co-operatives.
As there is no one definitive measure of food poverty or inequality in Scotland, the inquiry will consider a number of indicators commonly used. Some of these finding include the report from the Trussell Trust that the most common reasons for using foodbanks are low income (26%), benefit delays (26%) and benefit changes (17%), and an NHS report showing that 11% of people in Glasgow had experienced at least one event indicating food poverty / insecurity in the past year.
The council and its partners have identified activities which can increase household income and reduce costs in order to tackle these issues. Some of these activities include ensuring work is a reliable route out of poverty; the council's Financial Inclusion Strategy; reducing fuel costs through the G Heat programme; measures now in place to recuse household costs relating to school, and the need to develop the community food sector.
The council will work with partners including Rev Dr Martin, chair of the Independent Working Group on Food Poverty, the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, North Glasgow Community Food Initiative, Glasgow North West Citizens Advice Bureau / Urban Roots, Fareshare and food retailer representative enquiries on the inquiry as it develops.
Bailie Elaine Ballantyne, Chair of the General Purposes Policy Development Committee at Glasgow City Council, said: "Food poverty and food insecurity is something that we must tackle in Glasgow, and the council has looked at a variety of ways in which we can help some of our most vulnerable citizens. Working in partnership with stakeholders and third sector organisations, we all have a role to make sure we try to eradicate any form of food poverty and the inquiry is a way in which we can continue to more measures in place across the city. Together we need to understand what's happening locally and find out the scale of our problem in our city and respond accordingly and that is what the food inquiry has been set up to tackle."
On 13 November, it is proposed that the entire committee - including an evidence session - will be devoted to the issue of food poverty / inequality.