Income support for poor families is on its way, says Sturgeon

Sturgeon Ducherty Hughes and O'Hara of SNP
Nicola Sturgeon and local MPs Brendan O’Hara and Martin Docherty-Hughes

By Bill Heaney

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has defended the Scottish Government’s strategy for dealing with child poverty.

An income supplement for poor families will be part of it, and there will be an announcement of the details of that before the end of June.

Ms Sturgeon told the Holyrood parliament: “It is now the end of May. There will be an update before the end of June, but we are not in June yet.

“We are looking at how we would introduce that in a way that would lift the maximum number of children out of poverty, and we have to look at the mechanisms that we need to put in place to practically deliver that.”

She added: “Child poverty in Scotland is too high, but it is lower than in any other part of the UK.

“That is a reflection of the seriousness with which the Government treats it and the policies that we are implementing, such as the best start grant, which is not being implemented in any other part of the UK. We will continue to do that.”

The First Minister said: “We should also all come together. As part of their post-election reflections over the next few weeks, Labour will perhaps consider belatedly joining the Scottish Government in asking for all welfare powers to come to the Scottish Parliament, so that we can tackle those causes at root, rather than continuing to have to apply sticking plasters to the policies of Tory Governments that we do not vote for.”

Labour MSP Elaine Smith said: “There is consensus among numerous anti-poverty organisations, including the Government’s Poverty and Inequality Commission, to call for urgent action on the introduction of the income supplement. As the head of Oxfam Scotland said:

Warm words will not make a difference to people who cannot put food on the table.’

“Can the First Minister offer more than warm words today to those who are in need of the income supplement right now? Will she bring it forward, or tell us what interim measures she will put in place? After all, can I remind the First Minister that in this chamber in March she promised us an update before the end of June.”

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