In a society with more millionaires than ever, food banks are just one indication of the growth in absolute poverty ("Alarm over boom in food banks", The Herald, November 12).

Of late, as an individual I have met parents who can not afford to pay the cost of their children's annual holiday, those having to seek second-hand clothes, others at a loss to finance leisure activities for their families. I know those who have just run out of money. Schools which used to allow free music lessons for children in receipt of free school meals now have to hope that they can afford a fee – some hope. How can these citizens travel to the weddings or funerals of relatives? How can they follow the Government's advice to finance a private pension or to buy their own home?

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In 2005, I was present at meeting when Iain Duncan Smith criticised Labour's treatment of the poor and declared: "Poverty is not just about basics but a lack of sufficient resources to participate in the life of the community." As Minister for Work and Pensions, the same man is now to blame for policies which bring about dire poverty. As for participating in the community, his Government allows the poorest to be shunted from their homes and neighbourhoods to even more deprived communities.

What annoys me is that the Liberal Democrats by supporting the Conservatives in government allow the destruction of the welfare state and the imposition of Victorian cruelty. For me, the question about independence is whether or not it would bring about a more equal society.

Bob Holman,

76 Balgonie Road, Glasgow.

Your laudable editorial on the growth of food banks and the role of charity in meeting this most basic of needs raised some important questions ("Government, not charity, should be fighting privation", The Herald, November 12). However, the conflation between welfare "reform" and cuts ought not to be one of them.

Whatever the case for rationalising the benefits system, this is primarily an agenda about welfare cuts masquerading as reform. The Coalition Government has decided to spend less in both real and proportionate terms on welfare at precisely the time when demand has risen. The results, including a rise in hunger and destitution, are an inevitable consequence of that choice. We're not really all in this together.

Martin Sime,

Chief executive,

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations,

15 Mansfield Place,


I OUTLINE the situation below regarding two families and how the new child benefit calculations, combined with other tax effects such as personal allowance and 40% tax rates, result in the tax system being unfair.

I compare two families, who I consider should be treated the same, but they are treated differently for tax purposes and the difference will now amount to almost £5000 a year.

Both family units earn, from actual work done, £70,000 pre-taxation. However here is how taxation affects both families:

Let's assume each family has two children. The first family has one main earner on £65,000 (working away quite a bit), one lesser earner (working full-time but self employed) on £5000.

The second family has two earners (teachers working locally) both on equal salaries of £35,000.

The situation after taking into account personal tax allowance, child benefit and 40% tax rate is :

For the first family – the first salary after tax is £44,479 plus second salary £5000 , making £49,479.

For the second family, salaries after tax are £26 332 times two plus child benefit of £1753, amounting to £54,417.

So, having earned the same amoint, Government policy and family policy are awarding the second family unit £4938 more.

Another factor which would easily bring this difference to more than £5000 easily would be that, as I believe will happen, the Home Responsibilities protection of National Insurance payments towards state pension were also removed for the lower earner in the family that is losing child benefit

I feel that it is too unfair to treat some families so differently from others. I realise these examples are with well-off families, but similar pressures exist in the benefit system for lower earners as well, exerting pressure on one-main-earner families.

Jennifer Wilson,