Rising child poverty in East Lothian called ‘shameful’

EAST Lothian MP Kenny MacAskill called on the UK and Scottish governments to act on the ‘shameful’ rise in child poverty revealed by new research.

The increase in the number of children living below the poverty line was observed over a period of five years in every Scottish municipality between 2014/15 and 2019/20.

In East Lothian, the number of children living in poverty fell from 21.9% to 24.5%, meaning that nearly one in four children is now affected.

Mr MacAskill tabled a motion in Westminster asking the House to take note of the results of research conducted by Loughborough University.

He urges the House to ‘call on the government to drop proposals to end the increase in universal credit; calls on the Scottish government to increase the proposed amount of Scottish children’s payment; and further calls on local authorities in Scotland to prioritize the fight against child poverty ”.

Mr MacAskill said the UK government’s decision to end the extra £ 20 granted to universal credit recipients after September was “disheartening”.

He said, “Child poverty is not inevitable, so it is utterly disheartening and shameful that the Conservative government has made the decision to reduce the increase in universal credit. The Conservatives must stop inflicting austerity on the most vulnerable because the effects are overwhelming, as evidenced by rising child poverty. ”

And he called on the Scottish SNP government to do more to help him as well.

The former SNP politician, who now represents the Alba party in Westminster, said: ‘The Scottish government must stop the rhetoric and take action to protect those most at risk from this Westminster government.’

A UK government spokesperson said: “The latest figures show that the number of children in absolute poverty has fallen by 300,000 since 2010.

“We are committed to supporting the poorest families, spending billions more on social assistance and planning a long-term exit from poverty by protecting jobs through time off and helping people find a job. new work thanks to our Employment Plan.

“The UK government has also provided an additional £ 14.15 billion in funding this fiscal year to the Scottish government to tackle the pandemic. This is in addition to the block grant and direct UK government support to people and businesses in Scotland. ”

A Scottish government spokesperson said: ‘While child poverty levels remain lower than in England and Wales the levels are not acceptable, which is why we are taking concerted action to reduce poverty.

“We bring about £ 2 billion to low-income households, of which around £ 670 million goes to children. We have invested the Scottish Child Payment worth £ 40 every four weeks, which is already reaching tens of thousands of low-income families, along with other measures including our Best Start Grants.

“This year we are investing significantly £ 100million in measures to support low-income families, including through new pandemic support payments; £ 50million will also be spent to expand support for free school meals.

“These statistics highlight that, even before the onset of the pandemic, the challenge of negotiating the UK’s welfare system left many people in desperate need of help. The UK government must act now to match our action and commit to making the £ 20 increase in universal credit permanent, and extending it to people with other benefits. ”

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