Scotland politics

Holyrood to draft Scotland-specific Child Poverty Bill

Sturgeon
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon announced the move during a visit to the Prince's Trust, where she tried her hand at DJing

The Scottish government is to bring forward a Child Poverty Bill to tackle the "deep-rooted" causes of inequality.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the move while also re-appointing Naomi Eisenstadt as the independent child poverty adviser.

Ms Sturgeon said the UK's approach to the issue was "fundamentally wrong", and is now seeking to develop Scotland-specific legislation.

She said consultations for the new bill would be published over the summer.

The Scottish government has previously only had its own Child Poverty Strategy, but will now work to cement what Ms Sturgeon called the "distinctly Scottish approach" in legislation.

Image caption Ms Eisenstadt has been reappointed as the government's independent child poverty adviser

Speaking during a visit to the Prince's Trust in Glasgow, Ms Sturgeon said her government "profoundly disagree" with the UK government's approach, which has included repealing parts of the 2010 Child Poverty Act.

She said: "It is simply unacceptable that children are growing up in poverty and we must do all we can to tackle the inequality that still exists in 21st century Scotland.

"While we have made progress as a government through the Child Poverty Strategy, it's clear from feedback from my independent poverty adviser, Naomi Eisenstadt, and others that we must keep striving to do more and we need to do more to enshrine our distinctly Scottish approach in law.

"By repealing large parts of the Child Poverty Act, including the income-based child poverty targets, the UK government has signalled that they do not see child poverty and the incomes of poor families as priorities.

"That is fundamentally wrong. With the introduction of this new legislation, the Scottish government is sending the message, in the strongest possible terms, that we profoundly disagree."

The UK government has defended its approach, saying "eradicating child poverty is an absolute priority", with the aim to "drive effective government action by focusing attention on making meaningful change to children's life chances".

'Cycle of poverty'

Ms Eisenstadt said the Scottish government's move was a "positive, practical and constructive step forward".

She added: "This legislation will maximise the chances that all people living in Scotland lead productive and healthy lives. We need to stop the cycle of poverty and prevent the next generation of young people being born into poverty."

Groups from the End Child Poverty campaign also welcomed the announcement, calling for a broad strategy to tackle poverty of all forms.

Poverty Alliance director Peter Kelly said: "We need focused and coordinated action to reduce poverty in Scotland, and setting out in law what needs to be done will help bring about that action.

"If we are really to make progress towards eradicating child poverty then we need a comprehensive national anti-poverty strategy that involves all parts and layers of government."

John Dickie of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland said the legislation was "hugely welcome" and hopefully a "vital development", while Martin Crewe of Barnardo's Scotland said it was "very good news".

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