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EDITIONS
Monday, 4 November, 2002, 19:21 GMT
Child poverty 'a national shame'
Deprived area
Mr Swinney said efforts to reduce poverty are failing
Action has been demanded after a new study said the number of children living in poverty has increased in Scotland.

The independent report said that almost one in three children were living in a low-income household north of the border.

It also suggested that about a quarter of the Scottish population was living in poverty, a figure which is above the UK average.


The Scottish Executive can only offer warm words and sympathy

John Swinney
Scottish National Party leader John Swinney said the findings were "a national shame" and a "damning indictment of Labour's policies".

The UK Government is currently reviewing the way it measures poverty - which is defined as those living on less than 60% of the median national income.

The Social Market Foundation think tank said in August that there should be a move away from this measure of deprivation.

The Poverty in Scotland 2002 report said that 25% of Scots were living below the 50% average threshold in 2000/2001, with 24% below the 60% figure.

The previous year 29% of children in Scotland were living in households where the income fell below both thresholds.

Efforts 'stalled'

Last year that had risen to 32% for the 50% threshold and 30% for the 60% threshold.

The report said that the efforts to reduce poverty had stalled.

It also questioned whether the Scottish and UK Governments were doing enough to tackle the problem.

Mr Swinney said the study showed that the Scottish Executive was failing and that Holyrood needed greater powers to properly tackle poverty.

Margaret Curran MSP
Margaret Curran welcomed the report
He said: "The reality is that the Scottish Executive can only ever talk about child poverty.

"Scotland has no control over the economy, tax or social security and without it all the executive can offer is warm words and sympathy.

"That simply doesn't cut it when we have one third of our children living in poverty."

Scottish Conservative social justice spokeswoman Lyndsay McIntosh accused Labour of failing to address child poverty.

She said: "When will the penny drop that trying to build a better society via government action alone is like trying to mend a cobweb with your bare hands.

"The old tax and spend approach has not worked and never will work.


It is simply unacceptable that in a rich nation such as Scotland so many children go without

Danny Phillips
CPAG
"If politicians are serious about helping the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society, they must first have the honesty to admit this simple truth."

However, Social Justice Minister Margaret Curran welcomed the report, which she said made an "important contribution" to the debate on closing the opportunity gap.

"We particularly welcome the report's support of our drive to defeat child poverty in a generation," she said.

The report was compiled from the most recent research data by the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland (CPAG), Scottish Poverty Information Unit (SPIU) and Open University (OU).

The study found that members of the Scottish population were more likely to be on income support than their counterparts elsewhere in the UK.

The report also said that:

  • lone parents are twice as likely to be poor than couples with children

  • the weekly income of a Scottish lone parent households is 204 - some 12 less than the British average

  • the unemployment rate for ethnic minorities is double that for whites

  • Scotland has the UK's highest percentage of people living on income support

  • a third of Scottish households claim benefits, compared to a UK average of a quarter.

Danny Phillips, the head of the CPAG in Scotland, said families nearest the poverty line had benefited from government policies.

But he said that many people still found themselves alternating between low pay and no pay.

"This report shows we must all support the pledge to end child poverty by the Scottish Executive," he said.

"It is simply unacceptable that in a rich nation such as Scotland so many children go without and enter the cycle of poverty into adulthood."

See also:

04 Nov 02 | Scotland
17 Sep 02 | Scotland
10 May 02 | Scotland
18 Feb 02 | Scotland
04 Dec 00 | Scotland
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