Child Poverty ambition receives unanimous backing at Holyrood

Written by Tom Freeman on 9 November 2017 in News

Child Poverty Bill to set 2030 targets backed unanimously by MSPs

MSPs have unanimously backed new laws which require governments to reduce the number of children living in poverty.

The Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill sets out statutory targets which the government is expected to hit by 2030.

The decision makes Scotland the only part of the UK to set such targets to tackle child poverty.

Government will also be required to set out and report on the actions they will take to meet those targets.

Local authorities and health boards in Scotland will also have a duty to produce local child poverty action reports and to measure progress.

Government figures show the proportion of children living in poverty in Scotland rose from 22 per cent to 26 per cent last year.

Equalities Secretary Angela Constance calleds the decision “an historic next milestone” on the way to confining child poverty to the history books.

“Meeting our ambitious new targets will be challenging and it will seem like we are often fighting with one hand behind our back in the face of the cuts, which are set to increase child poverty across the UK by around one million children,” she said.

The Scottish Conservatives backed the bill, welcoming amendments on interim targets and delivery plans.

Adam Tomkins said the bill sent “the strong message that we are united in saying that the targets should be met. We can make child poverty history in Scotland, so let us get to it”.

Labour’s Iain Gray welcomed the cross-party consensus.

“The Scottish Parliament was made for times such as this,” he said.

“We know that the number of children in Scotland who are living in poverty has increased by 40,000 in the past year. If there is a right time to act, this is it. Today, we commit to reversing that trend and moving instead towards the eradication of child poverty.”

Former SNP minister Alex Neil warned the plans would fail without investment.

“If we do not attack poverty at its root and provide a cash injection, many of our other objectives, such as reducing health inequalities and closing the educational attainment gap, will not be met,” he said.

Responding to the vote, John Dickie, Director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland said: “This is a hugely welcome step in the fight to end child poverty in Scotland. We are delighted that in today's vote all the political parties at Holyrood have recognised that child poverty is unacceptable, that it is not inevitable and that it can be eradicated.

“The unanimous support for income-based child poverty targets and for national delivery plans setting out the employment, social security, housing and childcare measures needed to end child poverty creates an important springboard for the action and investment that is now needed."

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