As someone who grew up in poverty, I challenged the UK Government in a recent debate on child poverty. The cruel and austere policies of successive Tory governments are deeply damaging and dangerous for children here in North Ayrshire and Arran, and they must not go unchallenged.
Poverty is not just about a lack of money – it bleeds into every single area of life and is hugely damaging for the children affected, bringing with it a poverty of hope, aspiration, self-confidence and self-belief. The fact is that unless child poverty is addressed, raising aspiration and attainment is like working with one hand tied behind your back.
With the powers it has, the Scottish Government has done much to tackle child poverty but the roll-out of Universal Credit sees people being punished for being poor. Their children are punished as well, and left without the support that they need. That damages the life chances of children and their parents. Benefits must reflect people’s need—it is as simple as that. From the five-week wait for support and transitional loans that leave people in debt right from the start of their Universal Credit claim, the Tories have punished low income families and their children across the whole of the UK.
In-work poverty is also a scandal and the UK Government’s so-called Living Wage is not based on the cost of living. Everyone should have as a minimum a Real Living Wage which is based on the cost of living.
Eradicating child poverty needs to be a priority. Scotland’s children need and deserve better.