(a) Government and the public sector
Some increase in cost
It will cost the Government and the public-sector some money to make the necessary changes as it is underinvestment which has led to the failings we have long seen in our food system. For example, establishing an independent statutory body will be an investment. This will lead to some increase in cost but, equally, ensuring the food system improves public health will put less strain on the NHS. Currently, diet-related illnesses place huge avoidable costs on our health service. The financial impact of greater investment in the food system will be more than balanced out by an improvement to public health – as well as the positive impact on society and the environment.
Some increase in cost
Businesses may have some increases in cost due to pay raises for staff whose wages are too low to afford nutritious food for them and their families. Unfair employment practices usually stay in place because they cut costs for businesses. However, there are also savings for businesses by changing these unfair practices. For example, there are likely to be fewer sick-days for staff who are mentally and physically healthier. A healthier workforce will be a more productive workforce and this will benefit the businesses. The food sector has struggled with job retention, but better conditions and fairer wages will attract more people into the sector providing more financial stability for businesses. Additionally, a shift in public attitudes means that the goodwill that businesses get from acting ethically should help their business attract more customers and it will increase the value of their product on international markets. Finally, in line with the Scottish Government’s climate change goals, businesses going greener may lead to fewer financial penalties for waste and pollution – resulting in further savings.
Some reduction in cost
Individuals that are unable to afford nutritious food for themselves and their families will see a reduction to their costs. Putting the right to food into law will place the responsibility on the Government to ensure everyone can afford nutritious food, through fair wages or adequate benefits. Though this is not about making food cheaper; it is about making sure everyone in Scotland can access healthy food with dignity. So, individuals and families would see a reduction in their costs relative to their income.
People will be mentally and physically healthier as a result and this can have far reaching positive financial implications. Improved public health can, for example, improve performance in school, resulting in better job prospects.