What has the SNP done to address child poverty?
We believe it is shameful in this day and age in Scotland so many of our children grow up in poverty and we are committed to delivering a fairer future for all.
In government the SNP is taking action. We have passed a Child Poverty Bill to introduce income based child poverty targets. This will make Scotland the only UK nation to have child poverty targets set out in law, after the Tory government scrapped targets for the whole of the UK.
We have established a Poverty and Inequality Commission to provide advice to Ministers and monitor progress on tackling poverty and inequality, and established a new £50 million fund to tackle child poverty. The new fund will provide £50 million over five years and will be distributed based on advice from the Poverty and Inequality Commission.
We will use new Scottish social security powers to support young families on low incomes at the key stages of their children’s lives with a new Best Start Grant.
We have already expanded free childcare and early learning by 45 per cent and provided free school meals for all children in primary classes 1 to 3. By 2021, we will almost double the number of hours of free early years education and childcare to 30 hours a week for vulnerable two year olds and all three and four year olds. And we will expand free school meals to all children entitled to free early years education.
We are investing in mitigating against welfare cuts including the Bedroom Tax, maintaining Council Tax benefit and the Scottish Welfare Fund. And we have increased the child allowance within the Council Tax reduction scheme by 25 per cent, helping nearly 140,000 children across Scotland.
To tackle the education attainment gap we will, over the next five years, expand our Attainment Fund and invest an additional £750 million in tackling this, with more money allocated direct to headteachers. We will also introduce a new £100 national minimum school clothing grant so that all eligible families, regardless of their local authority area, will have access to the same minimum level of financial support for school clothing.
At Westminster, we will hold the government to UK account on the impact of their policies on child poverty. We will call on the UK government to match that ambition by reintroducing UK-wide targets to end child poverty, and to follow the lead of the SNP Scottish Government, by working with devolved administrations to establish a Poverty and Inequality Commission that provides expert advice on tackling poverty, and monitors and regularly reports on progress.