Child Poverty Income Supplement

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 28th March 2019.

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The First Minister:

This is a serious issue. I am on record, not just today but on many occasions, as saying that I think that poverty rates generally and child poverty rates in particular are too high in Scotland. In Scotland, the child poverty rate is 22 per cent—which is far too high—but it is worth noting that the rate in the UK as a whole is 26 per cent, and it is 26 per cent in Wales, too. The member’s assertion that this is somehow down to the SNP simply does not bear scrutiny.

I have to say that what marks out the SNP Government is our determination to take action to tackle child poverty. Scotland is the only part of the UK with statutory targets. We are doing mitigation to protect against Tory welfare cuts and work to look at how we have an income supplement that raises the maximum number of children out of poverty. Whether or not Labour members want to accept it, the reality is that we need a delivery mechanism and the budgeting for that. We cannot simply promise something if we do not know how it can be delivered or paid for, and we are doing the hard work to make this possible, not just in rhetoric but in reality.

We will bring forward the update before June and Parliament as a whole can debate the best way forward. That is the right way to go, and it is the way that is in the best interests, in the longer term, of children across Scotland.