Town hall chiefs must be '˜accountable' in new child poverty drive

Historic new laws aimed at ending child poverty in Scotland must hold town hall chiefs and ministers 'to account', campaigners have said.

New statutory targets aim to ensure fewer than 10 per cent of children live in relative child poverty. Picture: Ian Georgeson

And opposition parties have warned that simply changing the law won’t end hardship as a consultation was unveiled on the new Child Poverty Bill by the Scottish Government’s equalities secretary Angela Constance.

Ministers are planning to enshrine new targets in law which will reduce the “unacceptable” one in five Scots youngsters living in poverty.

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John Dickie, director of the Child Poverty Action group (CPAG) in Scotland, said the bill is a “great opportunity” to help tackle the problem, but warned that political leaders must not escape responsibility for implementation.

“It is vital that the new bill includes ambitious targets as well as duties to measure and report on progress and a strategic framework holds national and local government to account,” he said.

He is calling for the new laws to include duties to report annually on progress, while councils and other public bodies should set objectives and report progress in relation to tackling child poverty.

Labour communities spokesman Alex Rowley said the existence of child poverty in Scotland is a “source of shame to us all”.

But he added: “We can’t change Scotland without doing things differently. This bill cannot be yet another entry in a long list of SNP laws which grab headlines but change nothing.”

The Scottish Government is to introduce four new statutory targets by 2030 to ensure fewer than 10 pe cent of children live in relative child poverty, after housing costs, with fewer than 5 per cent living in absolute child poverty.

There should also be fewer than 5 per cent of children living in low income and material deprivation and fewer than 5 per cent living in persistent poverty.

Ms Constance said: “I want to be absolutely clear that we are serious about our ambition to eradicate child poverty.”