Skills row 'threatens' Scots food favourites

29/12/2007 - 00:00
The future availability of some of Scotland's best-loved traditional foods is in doubt because of the way money for skills training is set to change.

Specialities such as Scotch pies, butteries, pan loaf, plain loaf and bridies may may become rare treats according to Labour members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) reported by the Daily Record in Glasgow.
They claim that a ruling by ministers at Holyrood means training in the food sector can no longer attract funding from the European Social Fund. Until now, European money has paid for almost half of the £3 million annual training costs in the food sector in Scotland.
East Lothian MSP Iain Gray, Labour's finance spokesman, is reported as saying the industry faces a potential skills shortage that could lead to a lack of bakers able to produce traditional treats such as the pan loaf, plain loaf and bridie.
However, the Record reports a Scottish Government spokesman insisting the policy change had been initiated by the previous Labour administration, pointing out that proposals on training grants to be funded through the ESF were contained in a consultation document published in October 2006 and the food sector was excluded at that time.
The spokesman is reported as saying: "The new Scottish Government, however, is involved in ongoing discussions geared towards addressing the issue of funding for food sector training. Early in the New Year we will be launching a discussion on a national food policy, demonstrating our commitment to the future of the Scottish food industry."
In November Scotland's Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Environment Richard Lochhead announced a commitment to a National Food Policy for Scotland and a National Food Debate in the New Year that will sample the views of experts and consumers across the country.
He said: "Food is a vitally important issue which impacts on many aspects of Scottish life - health, business and environment. Of all the subjects I've discussed with farmers, fishermen, restaurateurs, retailers and consumers, none evokes more passion than food, in particular the high quality produce from Scotland's farms, seas and food manufacturers.
"There is a growing appetite that we as a nation must make more of the wonderful food we produce. I believe a national food policy will help to ensure that fresh, high quality and healthy Scottish food is the first choice on everyone's menu. We want to ensure a more effective supply chain, where producers have closer links to their customers' right through the food chain including supermarkets and restaurants.
"There is a great deal of good work already being done, and the Scottish Government now aims to bring all these efforts together in a more joined up, collaborative way of working on food issues.
"This will take into account all aspects of food from health and education to the economy and tourism, sourcing Scottish food through public procurement, and making healthier food more accessible to all in Scotland."

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