New legislation aims to tackle child poverty in Scotland

New bill aims to combat child poverty in Scotland. Credit: Ian Georgeson.
New bill aims to combat child poverty in Scotland. Credit: Ian Georgeson.

Scotland is set to bring forward legislation to tackle the ‘deep-rooted’ causes of child poverty.

The move, which will see consultations for the new bill published over the summer, was announced today (Wednesday) by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The new Child Poverty Bill aims to set out a new approach to tackling deprivation and inequality.

It will provide a clear way forward for delivering the Government’s ambition to eradicating the problem.

The First Minister also announced she was re-appointing Naomi Eisenstadt as the Scottish Government’s Independent Poverty Advisor for another 12 months.

The Scottish Government previously rejected the UK Government’s decision to abandon income-based child poverty targets.

And it wants to develop Scottish legislation after the UK Government repealed large parts of the existing UK-wide legislation.

A consultation setting out proposals for the bill aims to build on the existing work from the Child Poverty Strategy.

The First Minister said: “It is simply unacceptable that children are growing up in poverty and we must do all we can to tackle the inequality that still exists in 21st century Scotland.

“While we have made progress as a government through the Child Poverty Strategy, it’s clear from feedback from my Independent Poverty Advisor, Naomi Eisenstadt, and others that we must keep striving to do more.

“The consultation and bill will allow us to refine our approach and ensure it best meets the needs of those who so desperately need it.

“By repealing large parts of the Child Poverty Act 2010, the UK Government has signalled they do not see child poverty and the incomes of poor families as priorities. That is fundamentally wrong. With the introduction of this new legislation, the Scottish Government is sending the message, in the strongest possible terms, that we profoundly disagree.”

Naomi Eisenstadt, the Independent Poverty Advisor, said: “We need to prevent the next generation of young people being born into poverty.”

Meanwhile, anti-poverty campaigners welcomed the new legislation.

Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, said: “This is an important and welcome announcement from the Scottish Government. We need focused and co-ordinated action to reduce poverty in Scotland, and setting out in law what needs to be done will help bring about that action.

“If we are really to make progress towards eradicating child poverty then we need a comprehensive national anti-poverty strategy that involves all parts and layers of government.

“There are 220,000 children living in poverty in Scotland; two-third of them are in households where someone works.”

He added: “The new Child Poverty Bill will be an important step forward. However, it is critical the bill is part of a long term, comprehensive national anti-poverty strategy, a strategy that ensures no-one lives in poverty.”