Scottish Labour has unveiled a ten-point plan to end child poverty through structural change – aiming to “tackle the root causes of poverty as well as the symptoms”, Richard Leonard has said.
The radical measures being proposed include steps towards scrapping Universal Credit, the two-child limit that it entails, and the benefits cap. Scottish Labour wants to replace the current system with one that will treat people with dignity.
A £10 living wage alongside Labour’s Jobs Plan for Scotland, which would invest at least £70bn in industry, housing and public services and create new, well-paid, high-skilled jobs Scotland will complement measures to reduce child poverty over the long-term and tackle the inequalities faced by those living in poverty.
The ten-point plan includes:
- Overhauling the UK’s punitive and counterproductive social security system;
- Increasing Child Benefit by £5 a week;
- Introducing a £10 an hour living wage along with Labour’s Jobs Plan for Scotland to create new, well-paid, high-skilled jobs across the country;
- Delivering a flexible, all-age, all-year, wrap-around affordable early years’ childcare service;
- Ensuring automatic entitlement for an additional funded year of nursery for children whose parents legally delay their enrolment into Primary 1;
- Extending ‘Club 365’ across Scotland (free school meals);
- Building 12,000 social homes a year;
- Introducing free bus travel for under 25s;
- Introducing an extra-curricular access fund;
- Introducing Right to Play.
Commenting on the fresh policy programme, Richard Leonard said: “A combination of callous Tory welfare reform and SNP timidity has allowed the unforgivable to happen – child poverty in Scotland in rising.
“The government’s own figures tell us one in four children live in poverty, and the majority of these are from working families. This is a disgrace that blights our society and demonstrates the glaring need for radical, structural change.
Moving on to attack the SNP approach to child poverty, the Scottish Labour leader added: “But the SNP’s response so far has been a series of piecemeal interventions, pet projects and one-off trials.
“Two of the most deprived wards in the country are in the First Minister’s own constituency. How can she bang on with arcane debates over independence while so many of her constituents are struggling?
“Nicola Sturgeon may not hear them. We do. Only Labour will tackle the root causes of poverty as well as the symptoms. This election is a once in a generation opportunity to create a fairer society. When Labour wins, Scotland wins.”
Figures released by the Scottish government earlier this year show that child poverty rates in the country are continuing to rise, and that the incomes of poor families are falling further behind those of middle and high income households.