Shocking levels of child poverty are a sign of SNP and Tory governments' economic mismanagement – Scotsman comment

Despite SNP rhetoric on child poverty, far too little progress has been made

In his first speech to the Scottish Parliament as First Minister in April last year, Humza Yousaf pledged to “substantially reduce child poverty”. It was a statement that echoed a long-standing, clear and consistent commitment by the SNP government to address this life-blighting problem. Importantly, at least government ministers actually recognised that the situation was unacceptable.

However, for all that doubtless well-meaning talk, new figures show that the problem is virtually the same size as when the SNP came to power in 2007 with some 260,000 children – 26 per cent of the total – living in relative poverty, after housing costs, in 2022-23.

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The statistics prompted Philip Whyte, director of IPPR Scotland, to say: “Despite repeated statements that tackling child poverty is a government priority, the rhetoric simply doesn't match the reality.” The think tank also warned that the Scottish Government was now at risk of missing its own legally binding targets to reduce the numbers.

UK-wide figures show that 4.33 million children – 25 per cent of the total – live in poverty, a record high, so this problem is not restricted to Scotland. And SNP politicians will rightly point to the Scottish Child Payment as evidence of their commitment. It will have helped many poor families.

However, while such benefits treat the symptoms, they fail to address the causes of poverty. The best way to tackle such a widespread problem is to improve the state of the economy as a whole. And on this, both the SNP and Conservative governments have a track record of failure, admittedly in difficult global circumstances.

Falling inflation offers hope of an interest rate cut, which would bring relief for hard-pressed mortgage-holders and all those in debt. It has prompted Rishi Sunak and co to claim, optimistically, that despite recently falling into recession, the economy is turning a corner.

However, with so many families on the breadline, the ultimate goal of a prosperous and happy country seems as far away as ever. And for that we only have our governments to blame.



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