Colin Smyth MSP
Colin Smyth MSP

South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has said that this year’s Challenge Poverty Week must be a “call to action” for the Scottish Government.

Challenge Poverty Week 2021 began on Monday, in the midst of a growing cost of living crisis, as the energy price cap rises, furlough is brought to an end and the Universal Credit uplift is scrapped.

A new report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has warned that the Scottish Government is set to miss their interim Child Poverty targets by at least 4 percentage points, leaving up to 210,000 children in poverty.

In Dumfries and Galloway, it is estimated that there were 6,250 children living in poverty in 2019/20 – a rate of 26.7 per cent (see table below)

According to recent Scottish Government figures, 3,525 children in the region receive the Scottish Child Payment – all of whom would benefit instantly from an increase in the rate of payment.

Colin Smyth said: “This Challenge Poverty Week must be a call to action for the Scottish Government.

“Even one child living in poverty is one too many – it is simply shameful that there are 6,205 in Dumfries and Galloway.

“Increasing the Scottish Child Payment would transform countless lives in a single move.

“In this region, 3,525 Scottish child payment recipients would benefit instantly, and many more as eligibility is extended.

“This is our best chance to meet our legal child poverty targets – but more importantly it is an opportunity to make a real difference to these children’s lives.

“It beggars belief that the SNP doesn’t seem to recognise the need for urgency and ambition.

“Likewise the Tories must also drop their dangerous plans to cut Universal Credit, which will only deepen the poverty we see in Scotland. We don’t have the luxury of wasting more time.”

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