We need a clear commitment that the Government will not try to reverse those changes at the final stage of the bill and it's a concern that today's response from the First Minister was vague.Patrick Harvie MSP
Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-convener of the Scottish Greens, used today's (29 June) First Minister's Questions to challenge Nicola Sturgeon after her MSPs attempted to stop Green efforts to strengthen the Child Poverty Bill.
Today at Holyrood's Social Security Committee, Green MSP Alison Johnstone succeeded in amending the Bill so that local councils will be required to report on what income maximisation services are available in their region. Such services ensure families at risk of poverty are helped to access funding they are entitled to, boosting their incomes.
Last week Alison successfully amended the Bill so that the Scottish Government has to say whether it’s going to use its powers to top up child benefit. The Scottish Greens want to see child benefit topped up by £5 a week, to lift 30,000 children out of poverty.
Although both amendments succeeded, they were opposed by SNP MSPs in Committee.
A further Green amendment to require the Scottish Government to explain how its budget will impact on child poverty was defeated after SNP MSPs opposed it and Conservative MSPs abstained.
Patrick Harvie MSP said:
"Green amendments were backed by all opposition committee members, to strengthen the Child Poverty Bill and put new duties on Ministers. We need a clear commitment that the Government will not try to reverse those changes at the final stage of the bill and it's a concern that today's response from the First Minister was vague.
"The Government’s own research, published today, shows that the unacceptable current state of child poverty will rise because of unfair UK government tax and welfare policies. We don’t need to accept this now that Scotland has the power to build a fairer system.
"On both tax and welfare, we have the powers to make a difference, and the Government should look again at a child benefit top-up, which would lift thirty thousand children out of poverty."