To eradicate child poverty here in Scotland we need to use the levers that we have at our disposal, before it’s too late. We need to make a lasting difference to each and every one of the quarter of a million children in Scotland who are currently living in poverty, and prevent that number from rising further. We must do what we can to protect children from poverty and the consequential adversity, missed opportunities and, in many cases, trauma. We need the Scottish Government to make bold commitments to address poverty now.
We know that the biggest single thing that we can do to reduce poverty and prevent the associated toxic stress is to lift families out of poverty by putting money in the pockets of parents. This will help them to live a life where they are able to support themselves and their children to flourish. The new Scottish Child Payment is a step in the right direction, but it is just a start.
We also know that this needs to be supported by a state which wholly respects human rights. A state that is compassionate and understands and responds to adversity and trauma. We have made some great progress in law and policy in Scotland. The commitment by the First Minister to fully incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child should provide a solid building block towards a fair and equitable realisation of children’s rights. This must include a key focus on poverty and every child’s right for their parents to receive the necessary financial support they need to bring up their child.
- income and resource maximisation for families and households
- well-designed and sustainable homes for families with low incomes to live in
- a just and humane welfare system
- a proper universal living wage which increases with the cost of living – after all two thirds of families living in poverty are in working households
Only when we begin to implement such policies will we begin to improve the life chances of children growing up in poverty.
What we do know is that poverty is not inevitable. If we make the necessary, bold political and economic decisions and have a focused and collective approach as a compassionate society towards the most vulnerable in our communities, it is possible to eradicate poverty completely.
Deputy Director of Children and Families