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by Louise Wilson
03 May 2023
First Minister Humza Yousaf hosts anti-poverty summit

First Minister Humza Yousaf hosts anti-poverty summit

Ending poverty is the government’s “single biggest challenge”, Humza Yousaf has said ahead of his anti-poverty summit in Edinburgh on Wednesday.

The First Minister is gathering campaigners, political party representatives, people with experience of poverty and other key partners to talk about action to tackle inequality.

He has pledged that “nothing is off the table” when it comes to meeting the challenge.

Deputy First Minister Shona Robison, Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville, Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray and Tenants’ Rights Minister Patrick Harvie will also be attending.

Coinciding with the summit, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has published figures of a new survey which revealed seven in ten Scots have cut back on essentials in the last six months due to the cost-of-living crisis.

A third of low-income families have skipped meals, while two in five say they feel very financially insecure. And while the Scottish Child Payment made two in three parents feel more secure, the JRF said it must increase to match rising costs.

Speaking ahead of the summit, the First Minister said: “The Scottish Government recognises the cost of living crisis is putting a huge strain on households and no one should have to make the choice between heating, eating or turning the lights on.

“Tackling poverty and inequality is the single biggest challenge facing Scotland and requires continued, urgent and sustained action.”

But Scottish Labour’s Anas Sarwar has urged the government to deliver more than “talking shops”.

His party is calling on the government to wipe school meal debt, support people with housing costs, freeze water charges and make public transport more affordable.

Sarwar said: “Every government has a duty to tackle poverty, but the SNP has delivered 16 years of empty rhetoric. We need more than SNP talking shops and photo ops to tackle the national scandal of poverty.”

The JRF has welcomed the summit. Chris Birt, associate director for Scotland said: “Ultimately each of the parties have committed to Scotland’s poverty reduction targets and building the better Scotland that meeting those targets would deliver really should be the work of the whole parliament.

“With that being said, people suffering in the face of the current cost of living crisis will be impatient to see what follows it.”

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