SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has today (7 April) set out her parties plans to “tackle the scourge of child poverty” after the general election.
One million additional children are expected to be plunged into poverty by 2020, taking the total level across the UK to a staggering 5 million. 100,000 more Scottish children will be pushed into poverty over the next five years, according to figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).
The SNP say “it is shameful that so many of these children are living in a household where one or both parents work”.
The IFS has estimated that coalition welfare cuts have saved taxpayers just £2.5bn. While the Joseph Rowntree Foundation says the cost of the cuts to Britain’s poorest households will total £29 billion in the short-term and have a detrimental impact on children’s futures.
Nicola Sturgeon said that should the SNP have a large number of MPs after the general election in May, they will push for key measures to protect and support children and their families from poverty:
- We believe that work should pay, and so SNP MPS will push for the minimum wage to increase to £8.70 by the end of the next parliament.
- The SNP will tackle child poverty by pushing for the key measures that support children to increase by the cost of living. We will argue for child tax credits and child benefit to be uprated instead of frozen.
- At the moment people entering work have their benefits reduced significantly even if they are earning a low income, effectively trapping them and their families in poverty. The SNP will help people who are moving into employment while also relying on in work benefits by increasing the work allowance to make sure work pays.
- The SNP have already invested in childcare by increasing provision to 600 hours a year for all 3 and 4 year olds and over a quarter of two year olds. Over the next Scottish Parliament we will go further. We will expand childcare to 30 hours a week for all three and four year olds and eligible two year olds.
- By choosing not to spend £100 billion on a new generation of nuclear weapons, we can help meet the costs of more childcare and invest in a better and fairer future for our children.
Nicola Sturgeon said: “Years of Westminster austerity have harmed the poorest ten per cent of households harder than anyone else – hitting families with children hard. That is only set to continue with all of the Westminster parties signed up to a further £30 billion of austerity cuts and the Tories planning to slash welfare spending by £12 billion.
“The absolute last people who should be paying the price of austerity cuts are children, yet that is precisely what is happening under the plans of all of the Westminster establishment parties.
“The UK Government’s current plans will see one million additional children across the UK grow up in poverty, 100,000 of whom will be in Scotland.
“That is a damning statistic and one that must be addressed, yet Labour are failing to offer an alternative.
She added: “A strong team of SNP MPs will be a powerful voice for Scotland at Westminster – demanding action to tackle the scourge of child poverty, because no child should have to grow up in poverty in this rich country.”