Campaigners welcome announcements on child poverty

Members of the End Child Poverty campaign have welcomed the First Minister’s announcement that the Scottish Government will bring forward legislation that sets out a new approach to tackling poverty and inequality. They also welcomed the reappointment of Naomi Eisenstadt as the Independent Poverty Advisor.

End Child Poverty had called on the Scottish Government to introduce a Bill in this parliament which set an ambitious but achievable target for the eradication of child poverty in Scotland. The call came as a result of the UK Government’s decision to dismantle the UK Child Poverty Act 2010, scrapping the target to eradicate child poverty by 2020 and removing the duty on the UK and Scottish governments to report on their progress.

As a result of the UK Government’s move there is currently no requirement on public bodies (including the Scottish Government) to produce strategies on how they will tackle child poverty or its effects.

Martin Crewe, Director of Barnardo’s Scotland, said:

“This is very good news in our continuing efforts to eradicate child poverty in Scotland. If we are to be successful we need a strong legislative basis with clear targets that all of us involved in improving the lives of children living in poverty can work to. We also welcome the reappointment of Naomi Eisenstadt as the government’s Independent Advisor on poverty as this will also help keep the issue high on the political agenda.”

John Dickie, Head of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said:

“The Scottish Government’s decision to introduce child poverty legislation is hugely welcome. It will hopefully prove to be a vital development for the one in five of Scotland’s children living in poverty, particularly given the UK government’s recent abandonment of statutory child poverty commitments. It is also vital that the new Bill contains ambitious targets, duties to measure and report on progress and a strategic framework that will hold national and local government to account.”

Peter Kelly, Director of the Poverty Alliance said:

“This is a welcome announcement from the Scottish Government, and we look forward to the Child Poverty Bill being introduced to parliament.

“This will be an important piece of legislation affecting change for those on the lowest incomes. It is therefore important that people with direct experience of poverty are involved at all stages of the bill process.

“People with experience of poverty are experts in the ways that low incomes affect their lives, and the Scottish Government must draw on their experiences to ensure we do better in the future and eradicate child poverty once and for all.”

Satwat Rehman, Director of One Parent Families Scotland said:

“We know from our work with families that UK welfare reform and austerity policies have had a devastating impact on single parents and their children. It is also now more important than ever that the Scottish Government makes budget decisions that protect families and help build a Scotland free of child poverty. I very much welcome this commitment from the First Minister to bring forward legislation to tackle the deep-rooted causes of child poverty. Its success will depend not only on policies to reduce poverty but to also address the fundamental structural inequalities in our society.“

Jackie Brock, Chief Executive of Children in Scotland said:

“We are delighted that the Scottish Government have heeded our call and taken the decision to implement new child poverty legislation for Scotland. We know that poverty, particularly child poverty, compromises health and wellbeing, and undermines the life chances of thousands of children across the nation. The Scottish Government's own statistics continually place the figure at 1 in 5 children in Scotland experiencing poverty and deprivation. We welcome the decision to take on this problem on a national level, helping to tackle the issue and bring struggling families out from under the poverty line.“

Mary Glasgow, Children 1st Director of Children and Families Services, welcomed the First Minister’s announcement saying:

“The Child Poverty Act has the potential to reduce inequality and improve children’s lives today and into the future. Many of the families we support across Scotland tell us they are turning to food banks, living in temporary accommodation and going without heating or energy because of punitive benefit sanctions. We have particular concerns about the impact of Universal Credit on the most vulnerable children. Ambitious and far-reaching legislation should seek not only to tackle the effects of child poverty but to completely eradicate it.”