Glasgow council leader Susan Aitken wants new Prime Minister to act on child poverty

-Credit: (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Council leader Susan Aitken will ask Glasgow councillors to back her call for the UK’s new Prime Minister to act on “unacceptable” child poverty in the city.

Ahead of July’s general election, Cllr Aitken said she wants the council to speak with “one voice” and agree to write to the leader of the next government to urge it to use its “significant powers” to “address this scourge”.

Her motion, which is set to go before a full council meeting on Thursday, demands that the two-child benefit cap, which restricts child tax credit and Universal Credit to the first two children, is scrapped.

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Labour’s Keir Starmer hasn’t committed to removing the cap, which was introduced by the Conservatives.

The city’s Labour group said children are “paying the price” of Tory and SNP failures, and a Labour government would “tackle poverty at its root by making work pay, cutting bills, growing our economy and reviewing Universal Credit”.

Cllr Aitken's motion, which expresses deep concern that “around one third of children in wards such as Calton and Southside Central are living in poverty”, also calls for the removal of the benefit cap and bedroom tax which are “currently mitigated by the Scottish Government”.

It states the “eradication of child poverty is not a commitment that can be achieved by the Scottish Government or by Glasgow City Council alone”.

Cllr Aitken said: “Every councillor in this city knows the stark extent of child poverty within our communities. Between a quarter and a third of Glasgow’s children currently live in relative poverty.

“That’s unacceptable and is why tackling it is a key city council policy. And while we’re making good progress in comparison to other major UK cities, there’s only so much we can do with the resources we have.

“Whoever is the next UK Government, they have a moral obligation to make the right choice and use the significant powers at their disposal to address this scourge, particularly as the direct connection between policies like the two-child cap and poverty rates is clear.

“For the well-being of Glasgow’s children it’s vital that the council speaks with one voice on this issue and ensures the next government listens and responds to the needs of our communities.”

Her motion invites the new Prime Minister to “examine and replicate the success of the Scottish Child Payment”. It also attributes progress on reducing child poverty to council schemes such as its holiday food programme.

Cllr Aitken will ask councillors to agree child poverty rates in the city are a “consequence of exclusionary social and fiscal policies pursued by UK governments” and that it is “entirely unnecessary for child poverty to exist in a modern advanced industrial economy such as the UK”.

A spokesperson for Glasgow Labour said: “Children are paying the price for 14 years of Tory failure and 17 years of SNP failure — it’s time for change.

“A Labour government in Westminster and in Holyrood will tackle poverty at its root by making work pay, cutting bills, growing our economy and reviewing Universal Credit.

“John Swinney, Humza Yousaf and Nicola Sturgeon have all broken their promises to the young people of Scotland, having presided over virtually static rates for children in poverty.

“The SNP must start using the powers it has to deliver on their moral and legal duty to tackle child poverty in Scotland.”

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