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Child Poverty

Volume 659: debated on Wednesday 8 May 2019

I have regular discussions with Cabinet colleagues on a range of issues and we are committed to action that will make a meaningful difference to the lives of disadvantaged children and families. This goes beyond a focus on the safety net of the welfare system to tackle the root causes of poverty and disadvantage. The UK Government will work with the Scottish Government on their child poverty strategy given that this spans both devolved and reserved interests.

In a recent report, the Resolution Foundation projected that the Scottish child poverty rate will hit 29% by 2023-24—the highest rate in 20 years —and concluded that the Government’s welfare reforms are to blame. Will the Secretary of State take a stand in the Cabinet against policies like the unfair benefit freeze or will he allow more children to fall into poverty?

I do not accept that analysis. Of course there is concern about the number of children in poverty in Scotland, but, as I outlined in my initial answer, the best way to resolve it is for the Scottish Government and the UK Government to work together and focus on a really important issue rather than constantly discuss the constitution.

While the Secretary of State gives false assurances about child poverty in Scotland, the Trussell Trust tells me that in my constituency it is giving out more and more food parcels to families and children. How is he using his power to ensure families in Scotland are not relying on food banks?

The first thing, as I have outlined in virtually every answer today, is to get the political debate in Scotland off the constitution and on to the issues that really matter to ordinary families. The idea of bringing forward a new independence referendum Bill in the Scottish Parliament, which would take up time when the Scottish Parliament could focus on issues such as this, is the problem right now.