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I congratulate Hugh Gaffney on securing the debate. In my constituency, one third of children live in poverty, and it has the third-worst statistics in the whole of Scotland for child poverty. That is shameful in this day and age, and it matters, because I grew up in abject poverty and I know what it is like. Poverty is not just about a lack of money, although clearly that is the foundation on which all poverty is built. It bleeds into every single area of life, and it is hugely damaging for the children affected. It does not just mean a cold house, or going to bed with an empty, hungry tummy, which is bad enough and completely unacceptable in this day and age. It also brings with it a poverty of hope, aspiration, self-confidence and self-belief.
Material poverty reduces and lays waste to the things we want all children to have. It is life-limiting, and too often leads children into a pit from which it is hard for them to escape. Even if, on growing up, they manage to drag themselves out of poverty, it leaves scars behind that do not vanish on reaching adulthood.
I have spoken in the past about how poverty brings isolation. When people live in poverty, there is no money to access local services. Parents cannot take their children out for a treat for the day; they cannot go to the pictures or visit the local café. They cannot have the everyday pleasures that ought to be part of every child’s life. It means that their life is limited and their horizons are not broadened. Many things are out of reach for them. That life limiting brings another kind of poverty, which arises from material poverty. That is a shocking indictment of a country as rich as ours.