On Wednesday 8th November, the Scottish Parliament voted to pass the Child Poverty (Scotland) Bill into law.

It sets out four ambitious headline statutory income targets relating to the eradication of child poverty, which are to met by 2030. They include reducing the number of children living in relative poverty to less than 10% and those living in absolutely poverty to less than 5%.

These headline targets are supplemented by robust interim targets and are accompanied by stringent reporting requirements at both national and local level. The Bill will also be underpinned by a statutory Poverty and Inequality Commission.

The Bill was introduced by the SNP Scottish Government in February of this year, following 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 Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission.

SNP MSP for Cunninghame South, Ruth Maguire, spoke in favour of the Bill during the Stage 3 debate – the last opportunity for MSPs to amend or speak to a Bill before the final vote on whether it should become law.

As well as unequivocally supporting the Bill its in clear commitment to eradicating child poverty, Ruth used her speech to highlight the hypocrisy of Conservative MSPs.

Although supporting the Child (Poverty) Scotland Bill, Tory MSPs have failed to oppose any of the damaging policies being pursued by their party at Westminster – such as the roll-out of Universal Credit, which is predicted to push one million more children into poverty by 2020.

Speaking in the debate, Ruth said:

“Our pressing duty as Scotland’s Parliament is to do all we can to protect and support children who are growing up in Scotland today.

We also have a duty to future generations of children to ensure that the actions that we take will mean that they are born into a fairer and more prosperous society. Not only that, but we have a wider duty to send a clear message that child poverty, wherever it exists, is unacceptable, contravenes a child’s fundamental rights and cannot and must not be tolerated.

In passing this Bill today, we as a Parliament will take a crucial step forward in meeting that duty to our children and giving all children in Scotland an equal chance to succeed and thrive

But as we celebrate Scotland’s step forward, we must also reflect on the fact that the actions of the UK Tory Government are pulling us backwards at the same time. Not only did the UK Tory Government scrap its own child poverty targets, in pressing ahead with Universal Credit, they are actively choosing to push more children into poverty.

The Scottish Tories need to know that it’s not enough just to support policies to tackle child poverty – you also have to oppose those that increase it.

I urge them again to stand up for Scotland’s children by joining the rest of this Parliament and using whatever influence they have to call for an immediate halt to the roll-out of Universal Credit.”




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