Charities back Nicola Sturgeon as she describes UK government approach as fundamentally wrong
Charities have welcomed a Scottish Government proposal for new laws to specifically eradicate child poverty in Scotland.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced today that a new child poverty bill will create legislation to tackle the deep-rooted causes of child destitution once and for all, saying the UK government’s approach of repealing large parts of existing legislation is “fundamentally wrong”.
The specific details of the bill are yet to be published, with a consultation expected to be announced in the coming weeks, but Sturgeon, speaking during a visit to the Prince’s Trust, said it will set out a different approach and provide a clear way forward.
A key aspect of any new law is almost certain to be the relinking of income and child poverty.
The Tory governmentscrapped child poverty targets which were based on measuring child poverty by a household’s income as it was likely to miss its future targets, particularly in light of its draconian welfare reforms.
By repealing large parts of the Child Poverty Act 2010 the UK government has signalled that they do not see child poverty and the incomes of poor families as priorities.Nicola Sturgeon
Sturgeon, who also announced Naomi Eisenstadt is to be re-appointed the Scottish Government’s independent poverty advisor for another 12 months, said she profoundly disagreed with the their attitude towards the Child Poverty Act 2010 - hence the need for specific Scotish legislation.
“It is simply unacceptable that children are growing up in poverty and we must do all we can to tackle the inequality that still exists in 21st century Scotland.
“While we have made progress as a government through the child poverty strategy, it’s clear from feedback from my independent poverty advisor, Naomi Eisenstadt, and others that we must keep striving to do more and we need to do more to enshrine our distinctly Scottish approach in law.
“By repealing large parts of the Child Poverty Act 2010, including the income-based child poverty targets, the UK government has signalled that they do not see child poverty and the incomes of poor families as priorities.
“That is fundamentally wrong. With the introduction of this new legislation, the Scottish Government is sending the message, in the strongest possible terms, that we profoundly disagree.”
Eisenstadt described the child poverty bill as a positive, practical and constructive step forward.
She added: “This legislation will maximise the chances that all people living in Scotland lead productive and healthy lives.
“We need to stop the cycle of poverty and prevent the next generation of young people being born into poverty.”
A number of charities which make up Scotland’s End Child Poverty Campaign, have announced their backing to Sturgeon’s proposals including the Poverty Alliance, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, Barnardo’s Scotland, One Parent Families Scotland, Children in Scotland and Children 1st.
Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, which itself has over 200 members, said setting out in law what needs to be done to progress towards eradicating child poverty will help bring about that action but added it was critical that the bill is part of a long term, comprehensive national anti-poverty strategy.
He added: “There are 220,000 children living in poverty in Scotland; two-third of them are in households where someone works.
“As part of a national anti-poverty strategy the Scottish Government must look at how we use new powers over social security to increase the incomes of these families.
“We also need to recognise that tackling poverty increasingly means improving employment conditions for thousands of people in Scotland.
“That means reducing levels of low pay but also doing more to ensure that the jobs that are being created in Scotland are decent jobs that provide a real route out of poverty.”
John Dickie, director of CPAG in Scotland, said it is vital that the new bill includes ambitious targets as well as duties to measure and report on progress and a strategic framework that will hold national and local government to account.
He added: “Legislation in itself won’t end the poverty that scars the lives of so many of our children but it will help ensure child poverty remains a top priority and that every level of government in Scotland can be held to account for the progress it is making.”
Martin Crewe, director of Barnardo’s Scotland, also called for strong legislation and targets.
He added: “We also welcome the reappointment of Naomi Eisenstadt as the Scottish Government’s Independent Advisor on poverty as this will also help keep the issue high on the political agenda.”