John Swinney needs to show us action and end child poverty in Scotland

John Swinney
John Swinney -Credit:PA

John Swinney writes in today’s Daily Record of his bold vision to end child poverty in Scotland.

The new First Minister is absolutely right to focus attention on an issue that continues to blight our society.

Many readers will agree with him that this is indeed a “national tragedy”. About one in four Scots kids – an estimated 250,000 – grow up in families that struggle to make ends meet.

Repeated studies show children from the poorest communities are more likely to struggle in school and miss out on the life opportunities others take for granted. But warm words will not change anything.

Humza Yousaf talked about the need to end child poverty but wasn’t in power long enough to make a difference.

Nicola Sturgeon had the best part of a decade as first minister but barely moved the dial on poverty. She did at least introduce the Scottish Child Payment, a benefit only paid north of the border to the most vulnerable.

But that on its own is not enough. A major cause of poverty is the cost of housing and a lack of affordable homes.

Too many families are spending too much of their incomes on extortionate rents set by uncaring private landlords.

Around 10,000 children are also stuck living with their families in unsuitable temporary accommodation – often cheap B&Bs paid for by the local council.

The worst thing about the last SNP budget was a decision to cut £200million from the housing budget. If Swinney wants to tackle child poverty, reversing that cut would be a good place to start.

Rwanda madness

Keir Starmer’s pledge to scrap the Tory Government’s useless Rwanda scheme on day one of a Labour government is the right call.

Money wasted on this crackpot policy already runs into hundreds of millions.

It has benefited no one other than the Rwandan government, who have been paid handsomely for agreeing to the whims of a desperate Conservative Party.

Starmer says scrapping the scheme will free up money for specialist squads to tackle criminal gangs who benefit from global trade in human traffic.

It sounds a lot more achievable than flying refugees 4000 miles to Africa.

Rishi Sunak should have scrapped this doomed policy when he became Prime Minister – but he was too scared of the backlash from right-wing backbenchers. The Conservatives only care about looking tough on immigration in a desperate bid to cling on to power.

Labour now have a well-thought out plan to actually solve this thorny issue. Unlike the Rwandan policy, it might actually work.

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