Emma Roddick MSP: “The Scottish Child Payment – unique in the UK – has lifted 50,000 children out of poverty”

Emma Roddick in one of the corridors of the Scottish Parliament

The 18th and 19th September aren’t easy anniversaries for those of us seeking independence for Scotland, but the events around the 2014 independence referendum are what brought me into politics.

The disappointment of the early morning of that 19th September, following the hope among Yes voters the previous day, will live with me until we finally secure independence. With a resolution from Humza Yousaf on how that may be achieved to be debated at the SNP conference next month, that day may come through the result of the 2024 General Election, so we won’t have long to wait.

The reasons that a majority of folk in Scotland now support the idea of being part of a normal independent country are varied, but one of the key issues for me – and for the Scottish Government, is to tackle the root causes of poverty more effectively.

That was set out clearly in the recent Programme for Government, and a members’ business debate on child poverty secured by my SNP colleague Bob Doris in Holyrood last week was another opportunity to set out exactly why we need to have all the powers over social security in Scotland, where we can manage them much more responsibly.

I know that my caseload, and those of so many other MSPs, are full of folk hit hard by the impact of the Tory-driven cost-of-living crisis. Not only has the crisis entrenched poverty for households that were already struggling, but folk who never expected to be in dire financial straits are now begging us for help.

Holyrood unanimously agreed to Scotland’s ambitious child poverty targets in 2017, and the SNP government continues to drive forward action needed to deliver a fairer future for the children of Scotland. We allocated almost £3 billion of support, both this year and last, to support policies to tacking poverty and protect folk as far as possible during this cost-of-living crisis.

The Scottish Child Payment – unique in the UK – has lifted 50,000 children out of poverty, while Tory welfare cuts are keeping 30,000 children in poverty. Sadly, there is no sign of the UK Tory government matching the SNP’s ambitions to reduce poverty any time soon. Because of damaging policies such as the two-child limit, the Scottish Government has spent £711 million in the past five years mitigating the impact of Westminster welfare cuts. The two-child limit is affecting 80,000 children in Scotland and has removed more than £341 million from Scottish families since 2017. In Orkney, this cruel Tory policy means that 180 children across the islands have missed out on vital financial support.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Child Payment has supported 765 Orkney children over the period of its existence so far, bringing £793,765 into the islands.

The Scottish Government will continue to tackle poverty head on with the powers we have – while knowing we could do so much more if we had all the powers over benefits that independence will bring.

This is a regular column by SNP MSP Emma Roddick. All Highlands and Islands Regional MSPs have been offered the same space in The Orkney News to share their personal views.

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