Scottish Labour unveils child poverty manifesto to end ‘a national scandal’

Nathanael Williams

Scottish Labour focus on child poverty to show return to radical heritage

ONE WEEK ahead of the General Election, the Scottish Labour party have launched a dedicated manifesto to ending child poverty in Scotland promising large investments in social housing and maternity grants.

Kezia Dugdale unveiled the party’s document seeking to make the case to voters that along with a Jeremy Corbyn UK Labour Government, Scottish Labour MPs will be able to contribute to a “radically progressive” campaign.

Maintaining her message linking the SNP and Tories, she claimed that only the Labour party in this General Election had their full attention on ending child poverty across the entire country.

But the manifesto also comes in the shadow of claims that the UK Labour party would be open to a deal with the SNP MPs at Westminister after the results of the election on June 8. Emily Thornberry, the shadow foreign secretary, committed Labour to a minority government but said that prospect of a hung parliament meant cooperation would be sought on key policies.

“Only Labour will focus on ending child poverty and deliver a government for the many, not the few.” Kezia Dugdale

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said: “Child poverty is a national scandal. It should shame the Tories and the SNP that in the last year 40,000 more children are living in poverty. That simply isn’t good enough.

“Labour’s child poverty manifesto is a bold blueprint to put ending child poverty at the heart of government. It means making Holyrood’s social security powers work, asking the richest to pay their fair share to invest in public services, and boosting wages.

“Scotland has suffered from a housing crisis for years and the result of that is families trapped on waiting lists and 70,000 more children pushed beneath the breadline.  That’s why we urgently need to build more homes. Using Holyrood’s powers, Labour would increase Child Benefit to lift thousands of youngsters out of poverty, and a minimum wage of £10-an-hour will end the scandal of in-work poverty.

“Only Labour will focus on ending child poverty and deliver a government for the many, not the few.”

The party would additionally build 60,000 new homes, including 45,000 for social rent by 2020

Scottish Labour has put the figure for child poverty at 260,000 also pointing to the fact that families real time wages have not risen since the 2010 coalition government. 

The child poverty manifesto focuses on a £10 minimum wage previously outlined but UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. The party will also double Sure Start maternity grants to £1,030 per applicant which will aid mothers with childcare and new costs following birth. There will be a twice a year ‘seasonal grant’ for the poorest families and a pledge to boost child benefit by £240 a year by the end of 2020.

The party would additionally build 60,000 new homes, including 45,000 by 2020 for social rent higher than the Scottish Government’s pledge of 50,000 homes with 35,000 for social rent.

The manifesto makes references to Holyrood powers despite being released during a UK General Election with the Scottish Labour party hoping to link the performance of the Scottish Government with the fate of SNP seats. 

The Scottish Government for its part has already launched its strategy for the new Child Poverty Bill this year, looking at expanding the Living Wage and proposing that families’ income should be protected by law, with the aim that less than 10 per cent of children should live in relative poverty and less than 5 per cent in absolute poverty.

Labour in Scotland faces a battle to retain their single seat in Edinburgh South with Ian Murray emphasising his pro-European and remain credentials ahead of progressive anti-poverty policies. But party insiders have said they hope to target East Lothian where George Kerevan of the SNP has held his seat since 2015 with a majority of 6,803.

Picture: CommonSpace

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