On Thursday 1st June, Holyrood debated the Scottish Government’s Child Poverty (Scotland Bill) – which introduces four main statutory income targets for reducing child poverty and includes stringent reporting requirements at both the national and the local level.

The four statutory targets set out in the Bill are:

  • Less than 10% of children live in households that are in relative poverty.
  • Less than 5% of children live in households that are in absolute poverty.
  • Less than 5% of children live in households that are in combined low income and material deprivation
  • Less than 5% of children live in households that are in persistent poverty.

The targets are to be met in financial year commencing 1 April 2030.

The Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill will make Scotland the only part of the UK with statutory targets to reduce child poverty by 2030, and commits the Scottish Government to publishing regular Child Poverty Delivery Plans, which will be reported on annually. All local authorities and health boards will also be required to produce annual local child poverty action reports outlining the action that they have taken to reduce child poverty.

The Scottish Government Bill is a direct response to the UK Conservative Government’s decision to repeal the UK wide income-based targets for child poverty, and to remove the child poverty remit from the then Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission.

During the debate, SNP MSP for Cunninghame South, Ruth Maguire, both welcomed the Scottish Government’s commitment to tackling child poverty and condemned the record of the Tory Government.

Speaking Ruth said:

“As the Tories abandon their child poverty targets and push countless more children and families into poverty, this SNP Scottish Government is introducing its own ambitious targets and signalling its unwavering commitment to eradicating Child Poverty through the Bill we are debating today.

It is deplorable, if not surprising, that the Tories are anxious to bury figures when it comes to their plans for lifting people out of poverty.

In 2010, the Tory Lib Dem Coalition estimated that ‘as many as 350,000 and 500, 000(500,000) working adults could be moved out of poverty’ by changes to welfare such as the introduction of Universal Credit.

Far from reducing it by hundreds of thousands, the scandalous reality is that the Tories’ programme of welfare reform, including the callous two child cap, are dramatically increasing child poverty – with one million more children expected to be living in poverty by 2020.

I shudder to think of the further cost to society at the hands of an unfettered right wing Tory Government.

So long as we have a Tory Government at Westminster pursuing a cruel assault on low-income households, the SNP Government will be fighting poverty with one hand tied behind our back – but we will continue to do everything we can with the powers of the Scottish Parliament.

I do not underestimate the challenge that stands before us – and it is a task made all the more difficult with a Tory Government at Westminster pursuing a cruel assault on low-income households, families, and pensioners. This is the true cost of a Tory Government.

It strikes me that there is a clear choice to be made next week between Tory MPs who will simply rubber stamp more devastating cuts to social security – and SNP MPs who will oppose austerity and call for a fairer society for all.

I think we all know which would be more helpful as we pursue the aim of this Bill to eradicate Child Poverty in Scotland.”

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