Covid-19 (Infection Rates in Areas of Greater Poverty and Deprivation)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 26th November 2020.

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The First Minister:

We have sought to do that since the start of the pandemic and we have—as I said in my initial answer—made available significant additional funding to help specifically with the community impact. In doing so, we are recognising that areas of pre-existing poverty and deprivation will be particularly hard hit.

We have also made additional money available to local authorities to help with financial insecurity over the winter. We are now considering plans, which we will make known in the weeks to come, on how we can provide particular help over the winter and beyond, as we start to recover from Covid.

On poverty more generally, this Government is determined to eradicate child poverty in particular. We are taking significant steps to do that. We are the only part of the United Kingdom that is introducing the new child payment. The first phase of applications is now open and the first payments will be made early next year. Many poverty campaigners have described it as a “game changer”. It is a signal of our determination to do everything that we can, within the powers that we have, to tackle poverty—child poverty, in particular. We will have more to say about that in the weeks to come.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer missed an opportunity yesterday. He could have chosen to make permanent the uplift to universal credit, which was rightly introduced because of Covid. He did not do that. I hope that this Parliament will unite in calling on him to rethink that decision and to right that wrong.