NEXT week is Challenge Poverty Week and an opportunity to highlight the problems and seek achievable solutions.

The problems are many and with poverty comes a load of related social issues that form a spiral of decline and a cycle of poverty.

Poor health leads to a life expectancy of people born in the most deprived areas more than 10 years lower than those in the most affluent. In Glasgow it is characterised by 1.7 years off your life for every stop on the west to east train line from Jordanhill to Bridgeton.

Healthy life expectancy is worse with people becoming ill much earlier in poorer areas and leading to a death before retirement age.

Children in deprived areas have lower educational attainment, which affects their opportunities and leads to poverty being transferred to their children, in a reversal of privilege being passed from one generation to another.

The key to tackling these issues as espoused by many, including Sir Harry Burns, former chief medical officer for Scotland, is early intervention, but what is also needed is extensive intervention.

A greater emphasis is required on investing resources in education and health, getting people able to compete for jobs and tackling the poverty of ambition and low expectation that still exists in many places.

The goal has to be a day when it is no longer acceptable to expect lower exam results in Glasgow schools because of the social and economic problems that exist.

On Monday the main speaker at the Poverty Alliance meeting is Nicola Sturgeon, who, barring an unexpected twist, will be First Minister by the end of next month. She will have 18 months in the role before the next Holyrood election.

SOME might expect Alex Salmond's loyal deputy to continue where he left off.

I expect more emphasis on tackling poverty and social inequality from the Glasgow MSP's government than we have seen so far.

She said earlier this week in this paper it would be central to the decisions she takes in office.

Until now efforts at dealing with poverty have had limited success, and the welfare reform agenda is imposing a one-step forward, three-steps back outcome for many people.

She will inherit a Scottish Government at a time when there are growing numbers of children in poverty, a greater reliance on food banks and Westminster cuts about to hit the working poor.

Poverty is a political choice. You choose to accept it is inevitable for some in society or to tackle it and its causes.

I fully expect the new First Minister, when she takes over, to choose the latter.