MSP calls for action to tackle child poverty

Mairi Evans MSP
Mairi Evans MSP

Mairi Evans MSP has insisted the next UK Government must tackle the issue of child poverty head on – by avoiding further damaging cuts to the benefits system.

Ms Evans spoke out during an emotional speech at the Scottish Parliament on the rising need for foodbanks across Scotland, with usage reaching record levels in Angus last year.

With more than 25 percent of children living in Scotland – over 260,000 - being classed as living in poverty Ms Evans believes there is a direct link between changes to the benefits system and foodbank usage.

The Angus North and Mearns MSP visited Brechin Community Pantry last week and praised the group’s fine work during a debate at Holyrood on foodbanks.

But she feels more has to be done by the next UK Government on the benefits system to tackle the growing need for emergency food supplies.

She said: “In Angus, figures were published in the past week that show that emergency food supplies had to be provided to 2771 adults and 824 children last year.

“This is an all-time high and an increase of 917 on the previous year.

“The Trussell Trust has stated that the biggest increases have been seen in areas where Universal Credit has been rolled out.

“The simple fact is we have a social security system that has been so utterly ravaged that it is no longer the safety net it was designed to be.

“Instead, it humiliates and dehumanises the very people it is supposed to help.

“Over the past few years the Tory-led UK Government have introduced the seriously flawed Universal Credit system, the bedroom tax, benefit sanctions, cuts to Employment Support Allowance, a freeze on working-age benefits and a complete cut to housing benefits for 18 to 21-year-olds.

“The family element of child tax credits has been removed, there have been cuts to bereavement benefits, and the new PIP system has seen many of those transferring to it from the Disability Living Allowance lose their entitlement altogether, with only 42% of new claimants get any sort of award.

“Changes to the state pension – which affect a whole generation of women - and the infamous two-child cap on tax credits, with its insidious rape clause, is estimated to affect 600,000 families across the UK have all contributed to the state our country is in.

“That’s why we are in this situation. That’s why we have so many people living in poverty and why we are such an unequal and divided society.

“Yet we hear from the Sunday Times Rich List that we have more billionaires than ever living in the UK. That’s what makes it blindingly obvious where the Tories’ loyalties lie.”