Last week the Scottish Government published its Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan update, setting out proposals for reducing the poverty that still blights the lives of so many children growing up in Scotland today.
There was much in the government’s announcement that was welcome. However, I fear that the plans are still not ambitious enough to deal with the current levels of poverty, let alone the likely increase that we are facing because of the escalating cost of living crisis.
I spoke in the debate on the updated plan and highlighted my belief that there is still more that can be done to stamp out child poverty and make a real difference to the lives of families who are on the breadline. I emphasised the harm that has been done during the pandemic and the growing impact of food poverty, especially on young children.
One child in poverty is one too many, and one day spent in poverty is a day too many. One of the key driving factors behind devolution was having the ability to do more to eradicate poverty across our communities. We should be using every power at our disposal to lift as many children out of poverty as possible, not crossing our fingers and hoping to scrape past our targets by the skin of our teeth.
Activity at a grassroots level is vital to overcoming poverty and enhancing opportunity. East Lothian Council was one of the first local authorities in Scotland to convene a Poverty Commission to plot a comprehensive approach to tackling poverty here. The council has recently renewed its own plans for working with partners and communities on this issue, and I know it is a key priority for Labour colleagues standing for election in May.
We owe it to the next generation to deliver on our moral and legal obligations to tackle poverty and build a better future for them all.