SNP to launch 'national mission' to eradicate poverty
The SNP will use a debate in Holyrood to today launch a national mission to eradicate poverty from Scotland.
The new Social Justice Secretary, Shona Robison will ask MSPs to back the government's plan to make Scotland "more equal".
However, the opposition parties have said Scottish ministers should be doing more.
Under targets set by 2017's Child Poverty Act, less than10% of children should be living in relative poverty in Scotland by 2030, and less than 5% should be living in absolute poverty and less than 5% should be living in persistent poverty.
However, a report by Loughborough University on behalf of the End Child Poverty coalition last month found that levels of child poverty have risen in every Scottish local authority over the past six years.
Ahead of this afternoon’s debate, Robison said: “It is time for us to work together to eradicate poverty in Scotland.
“While the pandemic has thrown into sharp relief the hardships faced by many in this country, it has also shown that we can make change happen at the pace and scale required for this new national mission.”
She added: “As a government we invest around £2 billion every year to support low income households. During the pandemic we provided an additional £1 billion to people and communities and to build resilience in public services during the pandemic, with an immediate impact on people’s lives.
“Our actions meant children and young people from low income families were able to access free school meal support during all school holidays and periods of remote learning, as well as putting money in the pockets of those who needed it most through pandemic support payments.
“Now we must redouble our efforts, working across government, parliament and society to build a fairer, more equal Scotland where everyone has enough food to eat, a warm, safe home that meets their needs and the means to give their children the best start in life.”
Robison has also called for Westminster to devolve employment laws.
While Labour said they support the call, they also said the minister could use powers she already has, rather than picking a fight with Westminster.
In a letter to Robison, the party’s social justice spokeswoman, Pam Duncan-Glancy, said: “Where you use all the powers of this Parliament available to you to reduce poverty and inequality, our party will work with you.”
Scottish Greens social security spokeswoman, Maggie Chapman, said: “There was cross-party agreement during the recent election campaign that the Scottish Child Payment should be doubled.
“All parties agreed that tackling child poverty was a priority. And it is good to see that we are finally getting to a radical approach to tackling child poverty across the public sector and beyond.
“By taking this approach, we can minimise child poverty and identify further powers we need to stop Westminster condemning children to living in poverty."
“Westminster’s failures should not be a cover for us not doing what we can – but we know what we need is more powers to address child poverty fully.”