ALBA urge Finance Secretary to fund “5 point plan” to tackle child and family poverty in Scottish Budget
A SENIOR ALBA Councillor has challenged the Scottish Government to take much bolder action to tackle child and family poverty in tomorrow’s budget as Child Poverty has risen in every Scottish Local Authority over the last six years.
Chris McEleny, General Secretary of the ALBA Party wants the Government to put in place funding to help fund his party's “5 point plan” to tackle child and family poverty.
Earlier this year it was revealed that child poverty has increased in every Scottish Local Authority over the last six years.
The research by Loughborough University, on behalf of the End Child Poverty coalition, showed that, even before the pandemic, levels of child poverty in Scotland ranged from nearly one in six children in the Shetland Islands and East Renfrewshire to nearly one in three in Glasgow - once housing costs are taken into account.
Now, ALBA’s Chris McEleny who serves on Inverclyde Council which is one of Scotland’s most deprived areas is calling on the Scottish Government to embrace his party’s 5 point plan to tackle poverty. His Inverclyde area has had a 2.9% increase in child poverty over the period.
Glasgow (5.1%) saw the biggest percentage point rise in child poverty Renfrewshire had a 3.8% increase.
The smallest increase was in East Renfrewshire (0.8%) and Aberdeenshire (1%) The Child Poverty (Scotland) Act, passed unanimously by the last parliament, requires the Scottish government to ensure fewer than 18% of children are living in poverty by 2023/24, and on course to less than 10% by 2030.
Official figures show that 26 percent of children in Scotland were in poverty before Covid-19 struck in 2019-20, up from 23 percent in 2018-19 and 24 percent in 2017-18.
This is well above the levels set out in the Child Poverty Act 2017, which sets mandatory targets of reducing child poverty to 18 percent by 2024 and 10 percent by 2030.
Commenting ALBA’s Councillor Chris McEleny said:
"According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, almost one in five households in Scotland is living in poverty and there are areas that one in three children live in poverty. Our five point plan to reduce poverty in Scotland must be part of a national effort to completely eradicate child poverty during the term of this Scottish Parliament.
"These five specific targeted measures represent a step-change in addressing poverty and each one will make a real and meaningful difference to the lives of children and families across the country.
" A £500 annual payment will help to offset the Westminster Government's attacks on the welfare state and should be paid to half a million households in receipt of Council Tax reduction, while our plan to increase the Scottish Child Payment to £40 per week will put money into the pockets of hard-pressed families who need it most. Doubling of the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA) every fortnight to 16-19 year olds at school and college will help to close the existing poverty-related educational attainment gap and extending free school meals to all primary and secondary school pupils will ease the pressure on family budgets and give our children and young people a healthy nutritious meal every day. And we have learned from Covid that fitness matters, making sports facilities free to all under 18s will keep money in families pockets whilst helping create a much healthier generation of young Scots.
“The Scottish parliament must act on election promises and make tackling child and family poverty a top priority. The cross-party commitment to doubling the Scottish child payment will only help meet the 2023/24 targets but it won’t stop more children falling into poverty if it is not increased to £40.
“ If the Scottish Government is serious about addressing poverty then I call on them to adopt Alba’s five-point plan to do so. “
ALBA's Five Point Plan to Reduce Child and Family Poverty in Scotland
1. Introduce an Annual £500 payment to assist half a million low earnings households in Scotland 🏠
2. Increase the Scottish Child Payment to £40 per week for 400,000 children in quarter of a million households 🧒
3. Extend free school meals to all primary and secondary pupils in Scotland 🍎
4. Double the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA) from £30 to £60 for 16-19 year olds in school and college 📚
5. Introduce universal access to sports facilities for all children and young people under 18 ⚽️