SNP minister defends record on poverty in response to Kirk commission criticism

SCOTLAND’S Cabinet minister for capital investment Alex Neil has robustly defended the SNP’s anti-poverty policies, after the Church of Scotland accused the Scottish Government of abandoning the poor with its “disappointing” spending plans.

Mr Neil claimed the Scottish Government was spending billions creating jobs and tackling poverty by building homes, following talks yesterday between the minister and the Kirk’s economics commission.

Professor Charles Munn, chair of the commission, said he was “impressed” by the minister’s pledges after a Kirk report said that the SNP’s budget plans failed to put forward measures to help Scotland’s poorest communities.

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The commission is set to report in February, after taking evidence from witnesses such as former chancellor Alistair Darling and finance secretary John Swinney on issues such as low pay, homelessness and unemployment.

Mr Neil claimed the Scottish Government did not have enough powers to deal with poverty and unemployment.

He said: We’re investing in a home-building programme that will see 16,000 jobs safeguarded. We’re getting people into work and are spending £12 billion on a national building programme.”

However, Rev Ian Galloway, convener of the Kirk’s Church and Society Council, said action was needed to ensure people did not pay the “high price” for the economic choices of others.