LABOUR leader Jim Murphy will launch his party’s election campaign today with a promise to end the need for food banks in Scotland.
He will unveil a five-point plan which includes the abolition of the bedroom tax and establishing a £175 million anti-poverty fund.
The party will also pledge to bring an end to government targets for benefit sanctions, end zero-hour contracts, as well as raising the minimum wage and extending the living wage.
Mr Murphy will claim that thousands of Scots could be forced to rely on hand-outs if the Tories are re-elected.
“This is the most important general election for decades,” Mr Murphy will say.
“The choice is stark. Another five years of Tory cuts, which hurt the poorest in our community the most, or a Labour government which stands up for working-class people.
“Scotland has seen a scandalous growth in food banks over the last five years. As the number of food banks grow, wages have fallen. The choice in May cannot be clearer, and Scotland can pick the winner – it’s a Labour or Tory winner for the whole of the UK.”
In the last two years, the Trussell Trust has recorded nearly 60,000 more people using food banks.
If the increase was to continue at the current level, he said, next year over 185,000 Scots, including nearly 60,000 children, would be forced to use food banks to survive.
Two of the main reasons people have been driven to use food banks are low incomes and Tory welfare reform plans, he said. Labour argue that the Tories are to cut welfare spending by £12 billion in the next parliament.
“We can have a Labour government that will tax bankers’ bonuses, not stand by while our poor and vulnerable use food banks,” Mr Murphy will say.
“We can have a Labour Government that will abolish the bedroom tax and raise wages, not cut our public services and stigmatise the most vulnerable people.
“After five hard years of Tory rule, Scotland is ready to kick them out across the UK.
“Only Labour is big enough and strong enough across the UK to kick out Cameron. A vote for anyone else gives the Tories a better chance of hanging on, and five more years of Tory misery for our poor and our vulnerable.”
Mr Murphy’s pledge to end the need for food banks comes hot on the heels of his pledge of a £1 billion package for jobs and students aimed at winning back hundreds of thousands of former Labour voters who have defected to the SNP.
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