FRANCES Scott’s excellent letter (September 19) on helping the poorest in society didn’t mention that the SNP is increasing the Scottish Child Payment to £25 per child in November and that it will be extended to children under 16. This should give the children of those on benefits a better start in life and will then be reflected in educational attainment and health outcomes.

This is despite Scotland’s budget declining in value by £1.7 billion since it was first published in December 2021 due to the impact of Tory inflation. The Scottish Government can't use tax powers to tackle the cost of living crisis as the Scotland Act only permits tax rates to be set once for the whole year.

The £20 million for a referendum will be money well spent if we can use the proceeds of an energy-rich Scotland to emulate independent Ireland where, according to a Financial Times analysis, the standard of living of the poorest Irish is 63 per cent higher than the poorest in the UK.

Energy costs for households and businesses in Scotland, as part of the UK, are twice that of the EU, which Labour and the LibDems have given up on rejoining. Scotland is a net exporter of energy and many will regret falling for the misinformation peddled by the No side eight years ago.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh.


A SIDE piece in your coverage of the royal lying-in-state gave me pause for thought (“Food from ‘The Queue’ given to charity”, The Herald, September 19). You report that “hundreds of kilos of food, mostly snacks such as crisps, chocolate and biscuits” were confiscated at the entrance to the Palace of Westminster and distributed to “hundreds of people who are struggling to afford to eat”.

Waste not, want not. But here we are in the sixth-largest economy in the world with, on the one hand, an extraordinary display of pomp and opulence and, on the other hand, citizens (subjects, if you prefer) relying on cast-off junk food to fill their bellies for a day. Howsoever great the personal qualities of the late Queen, it does make me ashamed that the UK still can’t ensure adequate nourishment for the poorest in our land.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.


IT is clear that most children and adults suffering from malnutrition in Scotland first contact primary care, mainly GP surgeries, across Scotland that in many instances do not keep statistics or details of what is exactly happening; therefore the Scottish Government does not know the full extent of malnutrition in Scotland, especially in recent times.

The cost of living crisis demands that the Scottish Government fix this problem by requiring all practitioners of primary care to record the number and extent of malnutrition in the population of Scotland so that the Scottish and British Governments can develop policy plans to alleviate and remedy the increasing problem of malnutrition in Scotland.

It is appalling that we do not know the extent of this problem, though we know it is worsening in that NHS Glasgow and Clyde have revealed that the number of children accessing acute medical facilities due to malnutrition has rapidly increased from 572 to 1,000 children from 2020 to 2021. This will be an underestimate.

This further marks out clearly that inequalities are growing in Scotland and that tackling malnutrition must be given the highest priority by the Scottish Government instead of where we are at now, when it cannot even give an accurate count of how many children and adults are starving in our own nation.

Sean Clerkin, Barrhead.


THE article by Gillian Fyfe of Citizens Advice Scotland ("Problem hidden in the cost of living crisis", The Herald, September 19) exposed the reality for thousands. No internet, no access to the outside world, no access to many human rights and all because of society's fixation about the internet.

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) fulfils a huge role for many vulnerable people trying to access assistance, reaching out, giving hope. But this problem of access to the internet goes much deeper; it excludes so many from society, subjects thousands to loneliness, yet most public services and utility providers are going down the road of making us all log on.

The article exposed the ludicrous situation of having to log on to access Universal Credit and many other benefits. This cost of living crisis will perhaps provide a wake-up call about the reality for many. The internet may well be yet another thing that we can no longer take for granted. I only hope society and in particular critical services will recognise the need for inclusiveness and respond.

Catriona C Clark, Falkirk.


I FEAR David J Crawford (Letters, September 19) takes a somewhat confused and distorted view of the role investment plays in society. It has very little to do with “us and them” in the overall scheme of things. Commerce and industry need investment to survive. If it were not for the Stock Exchange all supporting finance, investment, would need to come from the government in general taxation.

Should Mr Crawford receive a pension "while sitting on his backside” or have an insurance claim settled, for instance, he may be interested to know that the money he receives will, in the main, be derived from income from this type of investment. Every institution uses the Stock Exchange. Insurance companies, unit trusts, pension providers, trade unions, governments throughout the world as well as individuals, all have shares.

To abolish capitalism is to embrace communism with all enterprises owned by the state. All very well for utilities, water, power, transport and the like perhaps, but state-owned retail and hospitality, for instance, would be pretty dire and unattractive.

Nigel Dewar Gibb, Glasgow.


I AGREE with Christine Hadfield ("How to create healthy, happy people", Agenda, The Herald, September 19) when she says that the Covid lockdowns showed that we simply cannot survive without connecting with another human.

Coincidentally, I recently came across a scientific paper lead-authored by Casey Mulligan and published in June which gives evidence on this; it's titled “Non-Covid excess deaths 2020-21: Collateral damage of policy choices?”. This category of deaths includes drug and alcohol-induced deaths, heart disease and hypertension, diabetes and obesity, road accidents and homicide. One of the main findings of this study was that for the EU as a whole there were approximately 64 non-Covid excess deaths per 100,000 during the period in question. But for Sweden, which didn't have lockdowns, the figure was much lower, at 33 per 100,000.

Geoff Moore, Alness.


ONCE again brave Ukrainian soldiers retake another town in their own country and then uncover yet more unspeakable horrors. This time, there is clear evidence of torture and there is also evidence of hundreds of innocent civilians having their hands tied behind their backs and of being shot in the back of the head before being placed in shallow graves ("Russians ‘tortured civilians with phone wires and alligator clips’", The Herald, September 19).

It would be doing the animal kingdom a disservice by calling the Russian soldiers animals. I am not confident of justice ever being served when this is over.

I fear this will be replicated in numerous villages, towns and cities as the Ukrainian army continues its slow advance and repels the invaders.

The free world has donated money, humanitarian aid and arms on a massive scale but no military aid on the ground. I do get that and probably agree with it. But sanctions seem to be having minimal impact.

President Biden has said that Vladimir Putin must take the consequences if he unleashes nuclear weapons. What does that mean?

It seems to me that Putin is carrying on with impunity and virtually ignoring the free world. But what can be done? Apart from the abhorrent torture, we are still seeing the regular bombing of non-military targets such as schools, hospitals, residential blocks and railway stations.

Could the CIA dirty tricks people not arrange a coup? Or could our special forces not just go in and assassinate Putin? Both these options go against the grain in a democracy, but we are dealing with a madman.

Something radical needs to happen otherwise hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent civilians will continue to be tortured and slaughtered in such a cowardly manner.

We must explore every option, including options that we would not normally consider.

Stewart Falconer, Alyth.

Read more: Rather than honouring the richest in society, let’s help the poor