Child Poverty Bill: Greens Urge Focus On Boosting Incomes
Alison Johnstone MSP, Social Security spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today (10 Feb) welcomed publication of the Scottish Government's Child Poverty Bill and urged Ministers to focus on boosting families' incomes.
The Bill proposes a target that by 2030 fewer than 10 per cent of Scottish children are living in relative poverty. At the moment, in some parts of Scotland, a third of children live in relative poverty.
In recent months, the Green MSPs have secured a number of anti-poverty measures from the Scottish Government, including:
-A pledge to roll-out nationally Glasgow's Healthier Wealthier Children scheme in which health visitors help vulnerable families access benefits to boost their incomes.
-A pledge to explore a Young Carer's Allowance to help the estimated 30,000 carers under the age of 16, many of whom struggle financially.
-A pledge to review the funding formula for GP practices, as those in deprived communities with bigger workloads only receive £3.79 more per patient than those in affluent areas.
-A pledge to not use benefit sanctions in devolved employment programmes.
Green MSPs ran for election on a manifesto which pledged to use new powers over social security benefits to top-up Child Benefit by £5 a week. Research by the University of York shows that this would lift around 30,000 out of poverty, with around 200,000 children estimated to be in poverty currently.
Alison Johnstone, Social Security spokesperson for the Scottish Greens and MSP for Lothian, said:
"Greens have made tackling child poverty a priority in this session of Parliament, and we've already pushed the Government to take action on a range of measures, most notably the pledge to expand the Healthier Wealthier Children scheme. We also continue to encourage them to consider a £5 a week top up of child benefit.
"The Child Poverty Bill is another good step forward but we need to go much further on boosting incomes in order to meet targets. We should consider creating duties for public bodies to deliver practical help, such as helping vulnerable families boost their incomes by helping them claim benefits to which they are entitled.
“I would also encourage the Government to consider additional measures. We need to know that reducing child poverty is not merely achieved by moving those just below the poverty line slightly above it. There is evidence to suggest that ‘the poverty gap’ is growing and that the average family in poverty is further below the poverty line than it has been previously.
"Green MSPs will engage constructively with the Bill and the forthcoming Social Security Bill, so that the scourge of child poverty is truly tackled."
Child Poverty Bill: