|Printable version||E-mail this to a friend|
Help for Scotland’s poorest families
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today launched Scotland's first ever national strategy to tackle child poverty.
Scotland's poorest families will benefit from help to increase their household incomes and improve their children's life chances in the largest co-ordinated effort ever to lift more children out of poverty.
The national strategy sets out a range of cross-government pledges including:
Increasing the number of parents in employment - through initiatives such as Community Jobs Scotland and offering record numbers of apprenticeships
Reducing the squeeze on family incomes - school clothing grants, freezing council tax, scrapping prescription charges and providing free heating help
Encouraging positive parenting skills - help for parents to provide nurturing homes through projects such as You First for vulnerable families and the Family Nurse Partnership which offers support for first-time teenage parents over two years
Better housing and communities - building new affordable housing in mixed income communities with more green spaces, recreational and sport facilities
Giving all children more chances to learn - financial support for young people to remain in education through the Education Maintenance Allowance
A £6.8 million 'Early Years' fund announced just last week will be set up, which national voluntary sector organisations will be able to bid for in May.
The fund will back projects that offer parenting support, affordable childcare, play and bonding activities and family health initiatives.
Speaking at the Children in Scotland conference in Glasgow today, Ms Sturgeon said:
"It's time once and for all to turn the tables on child poverty and ensure Scotland's next generation gets every opportunity to thrive and prosper.
"We already have innovative home grown policies in place such as free heating help for low-income families, freezing the council tax and scrapping prescriptions charges.
"But we need to do more. Scotland's first ever national strategy will put helping the poorest families at the heart of every policy, whether on housing, health or education.
"However it is concerning that all our good efforts could be derailed by the UK government's savage cuts to welfare which will pull the rug from under many of Scotland's most vulnerable families.
"That's why it is more important than ever that Scotland, as soon as possible, has responsibility over the benefits and tax system."
Douglas Hamilton, Head of Save the Children in Scotland, said:
"Far too many children in Scotland today are born without a warm home, the right food, or the hope of a good education. That is why the first national strategy to tackle child poverty is such an important step forward.
"It is driven by the right core principles and a focus on the key things that are most likely to help families in the most severe poverty.
"To make a real difference to families up and down the country the strategy needs to act as a catalyst for local and national government. They must prioritise action and budget for tackling poverty.
"We urge the Scottish Government to keep a close eye on progress across the country to ensure that promises are kept. No child in Scotland should be born without a chance".