Basic needs such as having enough money to eat have become aspirational for many young people, with a third of young Scots reporting that their family has used food support in the last six months.

That finding out today from the annual Youth Opportunities Tracker report published by the Barnardo’s and the Co-op should be shocking. What’s deeply troubling is that such headlines have become far too commonplace.

Continuing tomorrow in The Herald 👇


The Herald:

Business, government and economists have for years debated the causes and potential solutions to the UK’s “productivity puzzle”. This refers to the collapse in output which from the mid-2000s fell from the 20th century growth trend of about 2.2 per cent per year to between 0.3% and 1%.

No single thesis fully captures the drivers of the UK’s disappointing productivity growth but without the fundamentals of secure food, shelter and healthcare, there is no chance that workers – and critically our future workforce – will have the capacity to deliver a modern and thriving economy.

READ MORE: Food inflation puts processors and restaurants on 'survival' footing

Consider this: “Having enough money to cover the basic needs” was given as the top ambition by 92% of Scots questioned between 10 and 25 years of age. That came ahead of “achieving the dream job” or “buying a house”.

A further worrying discovery was that only three-quarters of young people think they will likely have enough money to cover their basic needs in the future.

Corrine Cunningham of Glasgow provides support services to young parents and carers in the west of Scotland, having struggled with her own mental health as a teenager. She highlights how a lack of stability is undermining long-term goals as making it through day-to-day takes priority.

The Herald: Corrine CunninghamCorrine Cunningham (Image: IGS)

“As a young person, I’ve faced a number of challenges similar to many people my age and was lucky to be able to get support through Barnardo’s,” the 23-year-old said. “Now I work with young parents and families every day, and more than ever before I'm seeing them struggling to put food on the table.

“They tell me that they often don’t know where their next meal is going to come from and that they are skipping meals to feed their children. Having to live like this, from one day to the next, can have a huge impact on people’s mental health.”

Today’s biggest challenges facing the UK economy and individuals within it stem in large part from decades of under-investment in both infrastructure and people. Government and industry leaders must discard this crippling short-term focus, with food the fundamental starting point.