MSP calls for Government switch in poverty strategy

THE Scottish Government's strategy on tackling poverty needs to be re-evaluated, says a Glasgow MSP.

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Following reports of high levels in the most deprived areas, Glasgow MSP Drew Smith raised the issue with the First Minister and asked if he would be re-thinking his anti-poverty strategy.

Mr Smith cited our story in yesterday's Evening Times which highlighted child poverty in Springburn.

In the story Dr John McKendrick, a senior lecturer at Caledonian University, referred to a report from the Campaign to End Child Poverty, which revealed 51% of youngsters in Springburn were living in poverty. Parents living in the poorest areas are struggling to feed and clothe their families properly.

Dr McKendrick said, despite action, levels of child poverty were higher now than in 2004 and were set to worsen by 2020.

He added that regeneration has improved communities making poverty less visible, but no less real for those individuals affected.

Mr Smith quoted from the article and asked Alex Salmond at First Minister's Questions in the Scottish Parliament if the Government would be changing course.

He said "Since we know that some of his policies actually redistribute in the wrong way, extending inequality, will he acknowledge there is a need to re-evaluate his approach?"

Mr Salmond said poverty was at its lowest since the millennium.

He said: "According to the latest statistics available, child poverty is at its lowest level since devolution, 17% down from 28% in 1999.

"However, I'm sure there will be general agreement that figure is far too high, and we remain committed to tackling child poverty through early intervention and prevention.

"This, of course, was set out in the child poverty strategy that focused on maximising household incomes and improving children's life chances."

Mr Salmond said that the Westminster Government was about to carry out a "smash and grab raid" on welfare.

He added: "Is it not time that people like Drew Smith realised that people of this country will get an infinitely better deal from a progressive parliament in Edinburgh than they would from a Tory coalition in London."

stewart.paterson@heraldandtimes.co.uk

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