Child poverty is a source of deep collective shame

Tackling child poverty must be at the heart of a fairer, greener Scotland.

The scale of child poverty is a source of deep collective shame, says Scottish Green MSP Maggie Chapman, who called for systemic change to tackle inequality.

Speaking in a Parliamentary debate on Addressing Child Poverty Through Parental Employment, Ms Chapman, who is the party’s equality spokesperson, said the problem is a failing economic system and “not failing families.”

Ms Chapman said: “No child should be living in poverty, anywhere, and the fact that so many do, in a hugely prosperous country such as ours, is a source of deep collective shame. 

“There is no greater inequality than this: whether or not a child goes to bed hungry and cold depends primarily on how much money their parents have. And that in turn largely depends, except for a privileged few, on what kind of work those parents do.  

“It is a ridiculous and incredibly unfair situation. It’s one that we can mitigate to some extent with the Scottish Child Payment and other social security measures, and I am proud of the Scottish Greens’ role in these. But as important as they are, and we know they are keeping many children away from the brink of poverty, they alone are not enough.”

Focusing on the impact of low wages and in-work poverty, Ms Chapman said: “As the Poverty Alliance has pointed out, over two-thirds of children in poverty live in a household where at least one adult is in paid work. Yet that work pays too little, or covers too few hours, to meet a family’s basic needs. 

“Whether we’re talking about deliberately exploitative employers, small enterprises themselves squeezed by financial pressures or care and transport deficits that limit availability for work, this is a failing system, not failing families."

In finishing, Ms Chapman said: “A just transition is desperately needed, away from the obscenity of an eight million pound pay package for BP’s chief, to a just, green economy that is at its heart an economy of solidarity and care…

“I’d like to close by speaking directly to those families, to children in poverty and the parents who struggle daily to give them what they need and deserve. You are not invisible. You are not forgotten, and this is not your fault.”