SNP government 'abandons poor'

MINISTERS have been accused of abandoning some of Scotland's poorest people after it emerged that millions of pounds is to be slashed from a fund to tackle poverty.

The SNP government said it would spend 7.5 million for its "Achieving our Potential" fund during 2009-11, with cash going to improve cancer treatment for Scotland's poorest people, improve support to the long-term unemployed and to help children from deprived communities.

However, housing and communities minister Alex Neil has now admitted that 5 million will be spent during the 2009-11 period, due to what he said were "budgetary restraints which have been imposed" on the government.

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The decision to slash the fund, which also includes cash to offer financial advice to vulnerable people, was described as "crass and heartless" by Glasgow Anniesland Labour MSP Bill Butler.

He added: "It beggars belief that the Scottish government has chosen to make this decision."